Why do you hate Mumford & Sons?
Why do you love Mumford & Sons more than your future children?
The British folk-pop kings are wildly popular and are Grammy-winning, world-touring stars with an adoring fan base. There's a lot of love for the band in Colorado, and the band gives it right back. They sold out Red Rocks in about one day, added a second performance and used footage from one of those shows for the "I Will Wait" video. It was the grand finale of the tour and they named the tour film "The Road To Red Rocks."
Critics are not feeling so warm and fuzzy about any of this. And, to be fair, plenty of people who are paid to write about music don't like them either. SPIN's Chuck Eddy wrote, "They don't seem remotely musically curious" and came out swinging at religious themes on Babel. (As Kanye noted, "They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus...If I talk about God my record won't get play.") Pitchfork's Stephen M. Deusner wrote, "Every hoedown on Sigh No More -- every rush of instruments in rhythmic and melodic lockstep -- conveys the same sense of hollow, self-aggrandizing drama. And they pull that shit on every track."
That's been my line of criticism. When my dad asked for a Mumford record for Christmas, I asked if he knew which he'd prefer and, as an obnoxious immediate follow-up, if he could even tell any of the songs apart. "Charming men playing grandiose music to a four-on-the-floor stomp is not interesting," I'd declare to whoever would tolerate my bitching.
Then, the music started growing on me. I wondered if I was being harsh and reflexively contrarian -- the latter, a quality I hate. I was, kind of. I still have reservations, but I'll gladly sing along to "Little Lion Man" and feel all kinds of stuff.
I wanted to hear from a true fan, so I turned to the Colorado Daily's own Jessica Ryan (on Twitter, of course) for her thoughts ... er, feelings.
@JessicaLRyan relatable lyrics, beautiful soul-invading music, band members themselves, literary/other references, incredible live
And: I like this quote from Marcus -- the band allows me to feel this way
She linked to this: "A lot of time it feels like ... music is some sort of excuse to be a human. It's kind of like people need that excuse to go and put their arms in the air and sing their hearts out."
So, maybe critics (including me) are thinking too much about it. We're supposed to, of course. But as Tom Breihan points out in his "In Defense of Mumford & Sons" piece for Stereogum, Led Zeppelin was once a critical punching bag, too.
Is it so wrong to enjoy music that's, well, really easy to enjoy? The energy on the records, no matter how unrelenting, is big and it reaches even higher emotional peaks in concert. Are we that afraid to feel? (YES. Yes we are.)