Single Review – Benjamin Booker – Believe 

Some tracks seem to transport you to another place or time and blues-punk singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker’s new single ‘Believe’ is the perfect example. Continuing Booker’s trademark Bobbie Gentry sipping Bourbon with Chuck Berry on a warm Mississippi delta charm, for 3 mins and 54 seconds nearly all your 2017 worries seem to drift away with the kind of subtle heartbreak lulled air, gospel-tinged strings and thoughtful guitar reserved for the likes of Otis Redding. Third single released from Booker’s brand new record, ‘Witness’, ‘Believe’ is a so wonderfully soulful it’s easy to see why Kings Of Leon recently announced Booker as their special guest for BST Hyde Park on July 7. Booker is also set to headline London’s Moth Club on July 4.

Hayley Miller

Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind Review

Neo-folk band Mumford & Sons have set down their banjos for the latest album, Wilder Mind, and picked up their electric guitars instead. The result? A bland collection of almost-rock that could easily be mistaken for a Coldplay album. Mumford & Sons have always been somewhat of a controversial band; it seems people either love them for their folky sound and repetitive, perfect-for-drunken-singalong lyrics, or despise them for their intensely dull banjo-strumming and the faux West Country vocals of front man Marcus Mumford. Personally, I’ve always been of the latter state of mind but was intrigued to hear that their latest album had lost the infuriating banjo and had more of a rock vibe. Perhaps I’d finally get past my dislike for the band as they set their gimmicky ‘folk’ front behind them.

Sadly, the album falls enormously short. The opening track, Tomkins Square Park, focuses on Mumford’s wailing, maudlin vocals and cliché lyrics of lost loves, and accompanies it with a dull, repetitive drumbeat and plain, twanging guitar. There is no passion in Mumford’s voice, and even less so in the music. There’s more of the same throughout the rest of the album; it’s hard to differentiate between tracks, such is the lack of variation in tempo, pitch and riffs. Even as a non-fan of this band, I can see the gaping canyon between this and their previous hit singles ‘I Will Wait’ and ‘Little Lion Man’, where Mumford spat out lyrics as though he truly believed them. Wilder Mind has none of this passion and as a result the album drags on and on, dull as dishwater and totally uninspiring.

The best part of the album? It has made me rethink the old Mumford & Sons. Listening back now, the strumming banjo isn’t so bad; at least it’s different.  I could even get involved in some drunken “I really fucked it up this time” singalongs because it marks the 2010 to 2012 heyday of a band who knew what they were before losing their way. It seems with Wilder Mind Mumford & Sons have tried to satisfy those who didn’t take to their neo-folk style, and in doing so they have pushed listeners further away. It’s a generic pop-rock release that no doubt many will find perfectly pleasant, but which few will mark down as a momentous moment in British music history.

Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind = 2/10

Ellie Scott @elliemaryscott

Single Review – Mumford & Sons – Believe

The folk-pop collective from London that is Mumford & Sons are quite a marmite-like band producing marmite-like music. Whilst being showered with Grammy’s and other awards they’re often slated for unimaginative and hopelessly repetitive sounds (or abuse of folk music as some say) with the wind up instrumentals taking a hold over their first two albums. Nevertheless they do maintain a certain warmth to their music that often comes from Marcus Mumford’s wide vocals, but surely they must be capable of much more than just being energetic live performers? Their third studio album Wilder Mind is due for a May 4th release and the first track to emerge from it ‘Believe’. It’s certainly an initial ditch of their wound up folk instrumentals which is very much welcome as they’ve made a song with fluctuating, if simple soundscapes with soft sweeping instrumentals that allow the close and intimate vocals to take focus. In then progresses into a cascading drum section that’s paired with a tearing guitar lead and more familiar, bolder vocals. It is by no means a quantum-leap in terms of their sound, but it certainly has a greater dynamic and perspective. Hopefully it will give way to a slightly improved Mumford & Sons.