Everett True reacts to the news Mumford & Sons have announced their third studio album
March 2, 2015 – Mumford & Sons are pleased to announce the details of their forthcoming third album, Wilder Mind.
I’m assuming the title doesn’t refer to Arizona Wilder, the Mind Control Slave. Nor can I assume it is some form of bizarre, semi-illiterate reference to a “broadening of the horizons” because, clearly, Mumford & Sons music manages to do the exact opposite of that. (Man, have you watched one of their videos? Christ, they come across as smug Tory dicks.) Nor do I think it’s some obscure form of tribute to the brilliant, warped actor Gene Wilder. It could possibly be a reference to scientist Wilder Penfield’s ground-breaking research into consciousness and the human mind – although one suspects that most all, if not actual all, of Mumford & Sons’ fans are brain-dead when they listen to them. How else to explain the clear breakdown of all human senses?
No, clearly it’s a genial nod in the direction of online company developers Wilder Minds – their slogan, “Helping get your organization up to speed…we train, we build and we coach.” With some value-added bonuses thrown in, no doubt. Absolutely the aspirational sort of values young Britain should be striving for under Mumford & Sons… I mean, Cameron.
Milder Wind will be released in North America through Glassnote Records on May 4. It is produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, HAIM, Florence & The Machine).
Wow. Such a pedigree. Arctic Monkeys, HAIM and Florence & The Machine. Dad rock, mom & dad pop and clichéd indie pop. As Sleevie Nicks once put it, “from lad rock to dad rock. All dulled up and nowhere to go.” The third album from Bumfluff and Cunts should fit right in. Here’s Neil on the Monkeys:
Turner’s speech was all about having it both ways, winning an industry award, turning up, accepting it (and the new stickers that can go on the album of course, which is what it’s ALL about) while still drearily insisting that you’re still on the edge (cos as Oasis proved, you just have to repeatedly and tediously SAY you’re rock and roll to BE rock and roll these days). Consequently, Williams memo-to-Turner also tries the same double-talk move, communicating both the supposed ‘thrill’ of history AND his desperation to hit 300 words with equally vacuous BPI-style brochure-talk.
It features 12 new tracks, written collaboratively by the band in London, Brooklyn, and Texas.
Written “collaboratively”, eh? Well, praise Osborne for this brave new world where bands can work collaboratively on an album. I assume the PR is using the supplementary definition of ‘new’ here:
Already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time (“her shite new Mumford & Sons album”)
Or perhaps in its adverbial sense:
An album of new-made shite.
A number of the new songs were written and demoed at Aaron Dessner’s (The National) garage studios in Brooklyn.
The National, huh? Ground-breaking. New, even.
The band also returned to Eastcote Studios in London, where they recorded Sigh No More, for further writing and demo sessions. The album was recorded at AIR studios in London.
Sigh No More got a Brit Award for MasterCard British Album of the Year in 2011 (two years after the album came out). As opposed to the AmEx British Album of the Year, for which Coldplay were runaway winners. And Diner’s Club British Album of the Year, which was given over to U2 for the 200th straight year. It was also nominated for a World Music Award for World’s Best Album (award ceremony held in Monaco). (You can’t make this shit up.) Sadly, however, they lost out to an early conglomerate of the dreamteam James-Clarkson-Cameron-baby line-up despite the fact the latter had yet to release an album or do anything of worth whatsoever. Rumours that this dreamteam line-up feature heavily on ‘Hot Gates’, the final track on the new Bumfluff album, are unsubstantiated at time of going to press.
As are the rumours that the engineer originally slipped in a final ‘secret’ track entitled ‘Punch Us In The Face, We’re Smug Rich Tossers (And We Know We Deserve It)’.
Middler Win marks a significant departure for the young British band from their previous records, 2009’s Sigh No More, and 2012’s Babel.
MOJO said Babel was “more than just a decent nu-folk album… a great pop album”. Stupid cunts. Clash called it a “rip-roaring record” with catchy hooks and some good tunes. Stupid cunts. The A.V. Club called it “sonically impeccable”. Stupid cunts.
Significant departure? Yep. Not just hollow, self-aggrandising, predictable and as real as New Coke. But defiantly hollow, self-aggrandising, predictable and as real as New Coke.
“I say chaps,” chortles Marcus to his Mumford chums. “Let’s go out and kick a few peasants while they’re down.”
“Jolly good show Marcus,” chorus his chums.
The early sessions in New York and London witnessed a change in the band’s approach not just to writing and recording, but to texture and dynamics, too.
… what, they’re going to include some?
There is a minimalist yet panoramic feel to the new album, whose sound Marcus Mumford describes as “a development, not a departure”. It came about by both accident, and by conscious decision.
Wait. There is a minimalist yet panoramic feel to the new album? What does that even mean?
Wait. It’s a development, not a departure? Well, thank CHRIST for that. We wouldn’t want to piss off any of those new Tory voters… I mean Mumford fans… now, would we? Mind you, it’s difficult to develop something so anodyne without making it a departure unless you make it even more anodyne.
Wait. It came about by both accident, and by conscious decision. You fucking middle-management PRICKS!
Rim Dwindle will be available to pre-order through the band’s website, http://www.bumfluffandcunts.com/.
Rid Wild Men track listing:
1. Tompkins Square Peasants
2. Belching On Peasants
3. The Upper-Class Whoopee Dance
4. Wanking In The Face Of Poverty
5. Tears Of A Corporation
6. My Lassie’s A Smashing Good Lassie For That
7. Aspirational Healing
8. A (Very Useful) Course In Middle Management
9. Eton Boaters
10. We’re Rich, Get Fucked
11. Highway to Shell
12. My Lassie’s A Damn Fine Lassie As Well (will this do – Marcus?)
…and so on.
“Mumford & Sons’ singular importance in rock’s current moment cannot be underestimated” is not a sentence I ever imagined I’d read.
Especially not in the debut article deployed by a potential music webzine as a Kickstarter carrot, and especially not one which trumpets itself as offering A NEW KIND OF MUSIC JOURNALISM.
And extra especially doubly definitely not in one which has just come under articulate fire for its lack of diversity/ambition.
Mumford & Sons! Seriously?
Look, here’s the thing, Uncool: Mumford & Sons have become the embodiment of the kind of privilege-blindness you’ve just been accused of; why on Earth would you write a feature focusing on their apparently glorious, genre-spawning ascent at all, let alone this week?
Maybe it didn’t cross the water, all the righteous furore about them and their nu-folk compadres, the privately-educated kids with guitars hijacking rock’s avant cool and using their boorish mass to de-claw its fury at the exact same point in history when the working class is being battered by cuts and joblessness. (Here’s an overview of the debate; unfortunately Simon Price’s fantastic article in The Word which sparked it off is not available online.) Maybe it hasn’t bitten the blogging rock writers of America how fucking frustrating it is that people who are top of the heap privilege-wise (I’m thinking specifically of the frontman of M&S pals Noah And The Whale, Charlie “I don’t think where we come from really comes into it” Fink) can dismiss class as way of analysing music. Or that they can refute so easily the idea that someone’s sociocultural location might contribute to the content/sound/reception of their music in ways worth dissecting. Maybe this particular Brit-crit seethe, the reason why the band is referred to the length and breadth of Facebook GB as Bumford & Cunts, has escaped the editors of Uncool?
Which, OK. Whatever. You’re missing it because they’re missing it because you’re both from the same particular dominant demographic in the indierockverse. As Dorian Lynskey says in his perceptive blog post on rich kids in rock, it’s not a coincidence. That’s the way the kyriarchy works. (He also says this: “Entitlement and complacency – the sense of going through life without touching the sides – are the enemy of good art, and I hear them in a lot of young bands” which is a crucial consideration if you’re not just going to be slagging off posh boys for being posh boys, fun though that might be.)
If kyriarchy’s a new one on you, I’d advise you to stop what you’re doing, click and learn and come back when you know what the hell I’m talking about. You’re welcome; here to help. It’s all about who you are (in terms of your race, sexuality, gender, physical ability, age, financial security, cisbodiedness, education, class etc) and how where you’re caught in those complex intersectional webs of dominance/oppression affect what you understand of the world and what you project out into it.
You’ve just projected Mumford & Sons. This – see above – is not a coincidence.
So when people respectfully suggest that you take a long hard look at the way your own privilege and sense of entitlement gives you cultural and political tunnel vision the last thing I’d suggest you do is run your first article about a band infamous for epitomising just that.
And, furthermore, don’t use that old chestnut, the Death of Rock, as leverage to give your new-minted genre oomph. Because if you think “festivalcore’s ascent has sacrificed some nuances upon the altar of mass appeal” and then go on to say, “So be it: let them die so rock may live on among EDM and hip-hop and pop” then that’s its appeal stone cold dead for me. (Dampening nuance for mass appeal is meant to be a good thing?! Since when where those things necessarily at odds anyway? Who the hell are you writing for? And why?)
Plus, of course, anyone who says, “And it might be the last hope for the future of rock music” about ANYTHING, even the most sparky, eccentric, outsider strain of pots’n’pans girlcore gloriousness, let alone heard-it-all-before, happy clappy nu-folk waistcoatery, has not a single clue about history. We have no idea at all what marvels will unfold before us but the ever-mutating, ever-evolving, curve-ball-chucking glittershow that is rock music keeps on rolling on. (Lord help us if its only salvation were really in the kind of meh music even the author of the piece says doesn’t move him unless he’s watching it at sunset with his mates at Coachella. Fucksake. The only people who think rock’s dead are those who are mourning the death of their own youth. Rock does not belong to one generation. Write that out a hundred times and go listen to some Micachu.)
(Another letter to the poor sods at Uncool magazine – Lucy Cage)
So, you’re a bunch of musicians. You’re getting a lot of stick from journalists and commentators of quality (Everett True, for example). They’ve spotted that you’re the sons of the ruling class, that you were laden with privilege from birth, and that you’re part of a network of remarkably similar musicians, of remarkably similar backgrounds, who are dominating popular culture. Now, no one has to be all about where they’re from. Marx, Engels, Paul Foot, Tony Benn … even GDH Cole went to the same school as Noah And The Whale, a couple of Mumfords, and George Osborne. It’s not where you’re from. Its where you’re at. But if you’re Mumford & Sons the onus has got to be on you to demonstrate which side you’re on. Surely, at a bare minimum, you must be aware that most of the people buying your stupid, therapeutic records share neither your background nor your indifference to economic affairs. OK, you watch them on the telly playing the festivals and the front 10 rows are populated by punters who look like 2014′s fresher intake at Goldman Sachs and McKinsey. But they’re shifting a lot of units, those boys, and they surely feel some responsibility towards the people at the sharp end of austerity Britain who might mistakenly believe that these Mumfords offer a diversion from the crisis. They’re out there meeting people. Are they learning nothing?
Tonight, (14/3/12), Mumford & Sons are playing the White House. Playing air banjo out in that audience will be David Cameron, William Hague and George Osborne, proud to see the best of safe, white, ruling class British music on that Washington stage, comfortable that the Brit musicians on the stage will be people they’re easy in the company of, people whose dads are probably friends of theirs. Mumford & Sons playing the White House is the embodiment of the cultural logic of this Tory-led administration, and of British capitalism in general. Musicians are no longer the minstrels the ruling class hire for the occasion. These days they recruit their own. It’s safer that way. They’re part of the racket.
Now you can still choose not to be part of it. These Mumfords fancy themselves as being of the folk tradition. That which brought us Woody Guthrie, say, or Joe Hill. The folk tradition has a long, proud history of facing down power. Is that relevant today? Fucking right it’s relevant today. Just check out Grace Petrie or Steve White And The Protest Family. That’s proper folk music. Mumford & Sons are offered choices. Let’s face it, they’re offered far more choices than most musicians. And they consistently – really consistently – take the wrong ones. In the war of position they had a side chosen for them by upbringing. But they can still choose to change sides. Plenty have. Plenty do. Mumford & Sons don’t.
So tonight they play the White House. While, in July, Grace Petrie, Steve White And The Protest Family and Thee Faction will all be lining up at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival. You see the difference? You see why Mumford represent everything that’s wrong?
Does it matter? A bit. But not much. Remember, when you’re looking to change the world, don’t call on rock’n’roll. Call on GDH Cole.
(Mumford & Sons know which side they’re on. And it ain’t yours. – Billy A Reeves)