I didn’t know Mumford & Sons was the worst band of all time until Pitchfork told me that Mumford & Sons was the worst band of all time. Out of a possible 10 points, Sigh No More, the group’s first album, received a 2.1. Their third, Wilder Minds, got a 2.0. I am not sure why Pitchfork did not review the second album, but perhaps they were too busy lambasting Mac Miller, the fourth best Jewish rapper of all-time.
I am not here to contend that Mumford and Sons is the best band of all-time. I don’t even really think they’re good. But a 2.0? Sigh No More was a pillar of my 8th grade playlist alongside Regina Spektor’s Far and Fleet Foxes by the Fleet Foxes. On any given night, there was about a 20% chance that I would listen to The Cave at least once.
Basically Pitchfork says that Mumford & Sons is inauthentic – ingesting styles from other, better groups, and egesting “exaggerated earnestness” and “hoedown pop.” Mostly, I agree with these quotes. I just don’t think hoedown pop is that bad.
Pretty much every Mumford & Sons song is the same. They start off relatively chill and acoustic, and quickly increase in angst. Then, out of nowhere, a banjo player starts going nuts with little reprieve until around 80% through. This is the emotional climax. Suddenly, there is no banjo – just an incredibly singer on the verge of tears:
“IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT BUT MINE
AND IT WAS YOUR HEART ON THE LINE
I REALLY FUCKED IT UP THIS TIME
DIDN’T I MY DEAR?
Didn’t I my dear??????”
Maybe Little Lion Man isn’t the best example, because it actually just ends right there, but usually, there’s some sort of reprise with more banjo, more emotion, and maybe even a trumpet. Then the song’s done.
Mumford & Sons is to folk what early Taylor Swift was to country, but less talented. (Pitchfork doesn’t even review Taylor Swift’s stuff because she is too mainstream or something.) Their music is aggressively radio-friendly pseudo-folk. I don’t mean that as an insult. The upbeat songs range from kinda aight to pretty good. I don’t really care that much whether or not Mumford & Sons is authentic, and they don’t care either as long as they can make a living being inauthentic.
There are some moments when you understand why Pitchfork hates them so much, though. Pretty much every slow song on the album is bad. Thistle & Weeds is so bad that I looked up the lyrics to confirm that they didn’t make any sense, and I never do that. “I sit alone in this winter clarity which clouds my mind.” Winter clarity has never clouded my mind so I do not get it. Maybe I am overthinking it. I usually don’t care too much about dumb lyrics, but in such a slow, emo song, they have to at least kind of make sense.
In all, the album has no fewer than five songs that are at least 4.6s out of 10: Little Lion Man, The Cave, Sigh No More, After The Storm, and Winter Winds. With that much of the album not sucking too much, there is no way the entirety is worth a 2.0.
While Pitchfork goes out of its way to not review music by anyone they deem too mainstream, like T-Swift and Katy Perry, they seem to have no qualms about roasting the just-as-mainstream group that loves folk music and capitalism equally.
Is Mumford & Sons authentic? I don’t really care. Are they better than a 2.0 out of 10? Yes.
Mumford & Sons (as a whole): 4.7/10