Mumford & Sons has announced their next album, Wilder Mind, will probably sound nothing like their last offering, Babel. Like, NOTHING like it. On Monday, the band announced that their next album, Wilder Mind, being released on May 4, is a complete 180 from Mumford & Sons signature sound: they've gotten rid of all the acoustic instruments. That's right: no more banjo. Even though the band has had a glut of success in the past, especially with their song "I Will Wait," what's gonna happen when Wilder Mind comes out and it doesn't have that folky twang? Will people riot in the streets? I kid—but it's certainly a surprise that their new sound is going to be SO new, so we have to wonder if they're even going to be the same band.
As Rolling Stone reported, frontman Marcus Mumford admitted to being totally OVER their old sound: "We felt that doing the same thing, or the same instrumentation again, just wasn’t for us," We’ve got a broader taste in music than just that." Band member Winston Marshall put it more bluntly when he said in an interview last year: "I hate the f--king banjo," He said.
Obviously it's the band's M.O. to change their sound to whatever they like. If they wanted to, they could produce a record entirely instrumented by sitar and xylophone, and people would probably still buy it, since Mumford and Sons has seen so much success in the past few years. They were nominated for a whole slew of awards for Babel, including the Grammy Award for Best Song for "I Will Wait," and they took the awards for both "Best Longform Music Video" and the big one, "Album Of The Year."
Their folky Americana sound (even though the band is British, if you didn't know), also led to a collaboration between frontman Marcus Mumford and the actor Oscar Isaac for the Coen brothers' film Inside Llewyn Davis. The two recorded a version of "Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song)" for the film's first trailer. Between "Fare Thee Well" and "I Will Wait," it seemed like you could hear that banjo everywhere.
But not so for Wilder Mind. There will be no cello. No fiddle. No kick-drum. And not a trace of banjo. But if we're going to consider if the band will be the SAME band, well, yes and no. Obviously it's the same group of Marcus Mumford and his various sons: but it will sound more electric, more synthesized, more drum-machined. And whether Wilder Mind works or it doesn't, Mumford already has so many fans that it's almost a guarantee that it will still skyrocket in sales. They could have thrown their fans a bone and included at least one banjo riff, though. Here's their 2012 Saturday Night Live performance, for nostalgia's sake: