Mumford & Sons’ “Delta” proves worthy

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Mumford & Sons’ “Delta” proves worthy

Early on, it’s clear that Mumford & Sons’ fourth studio effort, “Delta,” is by no means an attempt by the band to reinvent the wheel.

Released on November 16, 2018, the album has since managed to top the U.S. Billboard Hot 200, likely for the simple fact that it’s a Mumford & Sons album, which is far from a bad thing. In fact, from the get-go, the album boasts lyricism similar to that of 2012’s “Babel” or 2015’s “Wilder Mind,” though the style in which the band’s lyrics are presented on “Delta” early on would seem to warrant the album a better chance of charting on the adult contemporary charts rather than any alternative rock chart.

Again, this is far from a bad thing. The album has a distinct Mumford & Sons sound about it with its mournful, “missing-you” lyrics and plucking instrumentals, yet it manages to inspire comparisons to several other notable bands kicking up dust in the alternative rock industry.

In fact, the first half of the album listens like a subtle mixture of Drew Holcomb’s “The Wine We Drink” and Panama’s “Always,” in that it sports gorgeous vocals intertwined with an airy rhythm section to create an easy-listening vibe that eases newcomers to the band’s sound into “Delta.”

Once the album’s second half rolls around, however, it becomes obvious that “Delta” is not totally neglectful of its predecessors, taking on a more brash, rhythm driven-sound similar to that of “Wilder Mind” with tracks like “Rose of Sharon” and “If I Say.”

Though the album never quite reaches the same fever pitch as “Babel,” “Delta’s” second half takes much more creative liberties with its sound and production that in its first half does, now that Mumford & Sons have managed to keep you along for the ride this long.

Whether it’s the haunting, spoken word lyrics in “Darkness Visible” or the screeching instrumental work on “Picture You,” “Delta” takes on a new life in its second half, becoming more comparable to the likes of Christopher Paul Stelling’s “Labor Against Waste” rather than Drew Holcomb’s “Good Light” by the time the album begins to wind down.

Highlights among the album’s more ambitious middle-half include “Delta’s” second single, “If I Say,” and “Forever.” The latter quickly reasserts the album’s earlier contemporary country sound.

In fact, “Forever,” is probably the greatest track on Mumford & Sons’ “Delta.” Though preceding tracks like “If I Say” and “Wild Heart” are strong contenders for the album’s top honors and do just as much as “Forever” in moving the album toward its bare, vocally-isolating ending that concludes with “Delta’s” solemn album-closing title track, nothing else can quite top the magic of “Forever,” which preaches loving “with your eyes” and “your mind.” “Forever,” with its beautiful lyricism and melodies, is even worthy of comparison to the band’s smash hit “I Will Wait” from “Babel,” in that it is undoubtedly a genuine Mumford & Sons track.

The album as a whole rides like a roller coaster that begins with tracks that put you in your comfort zone, whether you were already a fan of the band or not. Then, Mumford & Sons takes you on a whirlwind tour that seems to say, “Look what we can do!” before bringing you back down and allowing you to catch your breath.

Overall, though Mumford & Sons seem to err on the side of caution in terms of the band’s willingness to take risks with their newest studio effort. “Delta’s” out-of-the-box moments (though few and far between) are still memorable, while the band’s go-to conventions that helped to make the quartet’s prior studio efforts commercially successful pay off here as well, and help to make “Delta” a worthy follow-up to “Wilder Mind.”

4.5/5

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