Mumford & Sons’ new direction on ‘Wilder Mind’ a mixed bag

Mumford‘Wilder Mind’
Mumford & Sons (Glassnote)
3 stars out of 5

Change isn’t always for the better. Case in point, British outfit Mumford & Sons. The London-based foursome made as good a first impression as you can possibly make with 2009’s indie folk debut “Sigh No More” and maintained that momentum with 2012’s almost-as-good follow-up “Babel.”

Mumford CDFor third record “Wilder Mind,” however, Marcus Mumford and his mates decided to tweak the formula. Gone are the banjo licks and foot-stompin’ jamborees that made their previous records so enjoyable in favor of a more middle-of-the-road Adult Alternative sound that removes a great deal of the band’s individuality.

There are some nice moments to be found on the 16-track, 66-minute (including four live bonus cuts) release, most notably “Believe,” “The Wolf,” “Monster” and “Ditmas.” Sadly, there are a couple misfires as well, including the title track and “Cold Arms” — something you really couldn’t say about the first two studio albums.

“Wilder Mind” is a solid effort and the type of record that a lesser band would be thrilled to create. But I expect more from Mumford & Sons — “Sigh No More” and “Babel” raised the bar significantly — or at least something that doesn’t sound so much like everybody else. (Jeffrey Sisk)

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