By Liam Mannix
Sigh No More, by Mumford & Sons, is one of those rare albums that makes music listening worthwhile.
It turns up in Australia, unassuming white envelope encasing jet black CD. No hype, nor hyperbole.
Sigh No More is an incredibly powerful record. Songs are built by piling layer upon layer of instrumentation upon one another, creating incredibly resonant soundscapes – the same technique Arcade Fire used, to great effect. The resemblance is clearly sought – Mumford and co. have picked producer Markus Dravs for Sigh – he was the boy on the buttons for Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible.
Its ‘nu-Folk’, apparently – which I’m guessing means ‘Folk that’s okay to have on one’s iPod’. It sure as hell doesn’t sound like something you’d listen to in a barn. The banjos are there, sure – but you don’t ever really hear them. On Sigh No More, they’re just parts of the resonance, pigments on the canvas.
Sifting through the sound, we can hear guitars, horns, organ, perhaps a banjo. Each emerges from the flowing audio tides, bobbing above water for a few seconds before being sucked back under, back into the stream. It’s enveloping – rich and warm, like being wrapped in sound.
That really sums up the album to a tee. Every song seems to radiate a terrific, campfire-esque warmth. A large part of that comes from the vocals – almost every lyric is sung in three-part harmony, with front man Marcus Mumford’s strong voice alternating whisper with roar. The sound is uplifting, like being part of a choir, or an army.
Sure, its got weaknesses. Its a debut album, and it shows – some of the songs feel unfinished, or undernourished creatively. And at times, the reuse of that same ‘layers of sound technique’ can make Sigh sound a little monotonous.
But it’s still a great album – an extraordinary, and extraordinarily promising, debut. And it’s making serious headway into the collective musical psyche – Triple J just put it up as this week’s feature album.
So… go buy it.