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Posts Tagged ‘Mumford and Sons’

The rock of the 1960s was revolutionary. The rock of the 70s was virtuosic and could be prone to self-indulgence. In the 80s, it became commercialized, synthesized, and downright narcissistic. And in the 90s, Kurt Cobain looked across the music landscape, saw the commercialism and narcissism, and made rock nihilistic. Then he saw his art become a commercial product itself, and shot himself. The nihilistic, I’m-no-good angst quickly became a product, and reached its cynical, artless nadir in bands like Creed and Nickelback.

But looking at the history of philosophy, the response to nihilism was existentialism. People refused to believe in nothing. I think it’s fair to say that in indie music, there is a bit of existentialism in response to music’s recent nihilism. And it is in this light that I am interpreting Mumford and Sons.

This is music that believes in something, that refuses to surrender to despair. In the title track of their latest album, Sigh No More, the singer acknowledges his faults and frailties (“My heart was never pure/You know me”). But he doesn’t wallow in his humanity, nor is he trite about it. He celebrates it: “Love, it will not betray, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free/Be more like the man you were made to be.” The guitar sets a percussive rhythm, the banjo is frenetically joyful. The foot-stomping kick drum is completely unironic; it’s the pounding heartbeat of someone realizing that a lover they thought was gone forever has returned. It’s a sunrise, and wonderfully sets the tone for the rest of the album.

The music is sincere, and brimming with life and energy. Absolutely worth a listen.

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