Mumford and Sons got a great reception when they released their first album in 2009. Fast forward to now and suddenly they are cast as the spawn of Cowell in the eyes of most of those that originally embraced them. What have these agreeable chaps who sing about love and other nice stuff done in the intervening period to invoke everyone’s ire?
They sold shitloads of records, won Grammies and made America love them, that’s what.
I wrote a review of that album, ‘Sigh No More’, when it was released; the jist of this was they made nice enough tunes that didn’t have loads in the way of legs. I stand by that statement. Mumford are alright, certainly not bad. They’d probably be good at a festival if you disengaged the bit of your brain that said: “I so wish we were listening to Frank Ocean right now.”
This derision to them can be attributed to a condition known as Coldplay-it is, which is fitting because if Mumford continue on their current trajectory they could reasonably aspire to look Martin and Sons in the eye as equals soon. It was A Rush Of Blood To The Head and ‘Clocks’ that solidified Coldplay’s status and ensured they would be more than just that ‘yellow band’, before they reached true ubiquity with X+Y. With Mumford you can read Babel and ‘I Will Wait’, and who knows what to come in the future.
The trend of knocking a band down once they're huge them is nothing knew and God knows we’ve all been guilty of it. Maybe I’m getting old though, but I just can’t be bothered anymore. It’s boring. If you like something, just like it and get on with it. That’s not to say Liam Gallagher’s comment that they “look like they’ve got nits” wasn’t funny, but knocking the people at the top- especially when you’re in Beady Eye- seems the sort of neanderthal attitude that should be dispensed with by the time your kids are out of nappies.
Maybe it all comes down to identity. Arctic Monkeys have consistently sold records (not so many in America, mind) but they’ve been pretty immune to back-biting, even when they’ve been putting out so-so albums. They don’t “look like posh farmers with banjos” though-thanks Jake Bugg- and have always seemed a bit mouthy and tough, as well as articulate. Matt Helders could probably beat you up, and if he couldn’t he’d get Josh Homme to wade in.
Mumford always come across as dreadfully nice in a dreadfully earnest way. They look like they’d have trouble in a ruck with Union J, though they could probably take them in a looking-emotively-down-the-camera competition.
Of course, it could all come down to people genuinely thinking they’re bad, which is fair enough. But in reality there’s a lot of bands on this planet making exponentially worse music than Mumford and Sons, who don’t face the same shower of shit because they’ve had the good grace to not sell millions of albums. Either way, Mumford are only going to get bigger and will probably headline Glasto in June, so you might as well get used to them.