Monday, 3 November 2008

Mumford & Sons 'Love Your Ground EP' released 3/11/08

There are only four songs on the Love Your Ground EP, evidence, perhaps of the painstaking meticulousness of Mumford & Sons, who must, surely, have a multitude of publishable tracks to chose from by now.

Each of them is lyrically lachrymose, from the quiet, introverted fury of ‘Little Lion Man’ with its refrain, “I really fucked it up this time,” to the grasping hope of ‘Feel The Tide’, that sings “you and I now, we can be alright.” And yet the words are upended and juxtaposed with banjos and mandolins and ukuleles and those sorts of folk-like, twiddling, inevitably cheery instruments that make the songs themselves seem bright as well as melancholy.

The songwriting here still sounds a little premature and not yet fully formed, and Marcus Mumford is not yet beyond writing lyrics that teeter between trite and touching. There are glimpses of poetry in ‘Hold On To What You Believe’ with the words “we’re young/open flowers in the fields of this war-torn world,” but the chorus is still irritatingly preachy. Similarly the music is heavily circular, risking mudanity, and yet is illuminated by inspired moments, such as in the surprising intrigue of a time-signature change in the same track.

Mumford and Sons have been better known as Laura Marling’s backing band for a good while now, and it is through this musical join-the-dots than they are inextricably interwoven into the fabric of new-folk, inhabiting genre shelf-space alongside Noah and The Whale, Mystery Jets, Marling and Emmy The Great. Their EP reaches for the more artistically sincere side of the new-folk stick, and yet falls just short this time, veering too often towards the predictable and twee. Yet there are moments here that speak of a kind of cold, rattling, expansive folk that needs only to be stretched and refined over time to produce something truly definitive. This will be the task at hand for the band as they put together their debut long player.

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