After a three-year absence from the charts, Mumford & Sons has re-established themselves as the kings of indie-pop with their fourth album “Delta” which earned them their third No. 1 album. With the album’s lack of foot-stomping folk songs and unplugged ballads, it seems that the bearded, banjo-soaked acoustics we fell in love with are dead, but they have introduced a suitable heir that keeps loyal fans coming back.
With “Delta,” Mumford & Sons has successfully shifted its sound with the use of keyboards, steel guitars and echo effects. Despite the change, we still get the voice of lead singer Marcus Mumford, whose vocals could transfer into just about any genre the quartet chooses to tackle.
The song “42” is a strong beginning to the album. It’s vocal-driven, and the layered chords are something that the band has always done well. The long, throat-ripping refrains from Mumford give this track the potential to be a highlight of any live performance. “42” is a quintessential Mumford at its finest.
The standout track on “Delta” is “If I Say,” a post-breakup ballad that narrates how no one truly wins when a relationship falls apart. With its opening organ chords, a full string arrangement and a galloping rhythm, Mumford & Sons creates a sound that becomes picturesque and practically creates a cinematic scene.
Where “If I Say” succeeds, “Wild Heart” struggles. It’s more of a bare-bones track, and its vintage style doesn’t fit with the more modern sound the band is trying to convey in the rest of the album. It doesn’t help that “Wild Heart” falls right after “If I Say,” so it feels like the floor drops out from underneath our feet while we’re still buzzing from the breakup ballad.
The album’s other tracks are hit-or-miss. Some feel like they are just filler tracks — half of “Dark Visible” is spoken word — but others could be considered some of Mumford & Sons’ strongest works. Overall, the band has matured since “Little Lion Man,” and its first album “Babel” ushered in a new wave of indie music, but deep down, we’re still left looking for more of the Mumford-esque folk-rock we fell in love with.
Despite the more serious tone that “Delta” brings to Mumford & Sons’ repertoire, the album showcases the multifaceted talent that the group brings to indie music. The lush orchestral arrangements, layered vocals and broad range of sound prove that the quartet is fully capable of creating quality content and smashing any expectations.