dear mumford and sons fans,
this is going to be rough, but it’s for the best.
i promise i’ve resisted writing a post like this for a long time. truly i have. i apologize that i’m doing so now. i know you worship the four members of this band as if each were a different incarnation of the savior of mankind. i know to you their music is beautiful, haunting, joyous, celebratory, etc. but, my friend, after hearing ‘i will wait’ today for the 900th time in [insert store name] against my will, i have to scream my feelings aloud: MUMFORD AND SONS ARE A TERRIBLE BAND!
i’m very sorry, i know this might be hard, but bear with me. i just want to explain myself, a confession if you will, and then you can go back to loving your crappy faux folk troubadour nonsense i promise, and i won’t bother you any further.
now if you are about to tell me ‘why can’t you just let me like what i like? why do you have to criticize someone’s taste in music?’, i will respond by saying first and foremost that you are right. each to their own after all. the difference here is that your shitty taste in music (from my side of table) has made mumford and his sons so ubiquitous that i can’t avoid them. that is unforgivable. so if i am forced to tolerate music that i can’t stand, you my friend must put up with my declarations of loathing towards the object of my distaste and unfortunately your love!
i honestly don’t care how you answered that. please stop reading if you’re already on the verge of tears. you have been warned.
a) the songs
‘little lion man’ was most of the world’s introduction to this band a few years ago. it’s catchy, it’s poppy yet folksy, they say the word ‘fuck’. sure i get it, it’s fun, but what started as a uniquely grittier blow to mainstream music turned out to be a one trick pony. this overrated song judged against the scope of their subsequent releases starts to show that this band has a solitary mode. they are using it over and over again, and people are buying into it in droves. fine, you are being given what you like over and over and over again, but for those of who saw through the nonsense the first time around, this shit is getting ridiculous!
here’s the magic equation for how to write a mumford and sons song:
- start out with some acoustic strumming, slightly edgy, slightly fun
- have some guy sing some gobbledygook nonsense verse about love and loss like a british dave matthews
- sing-a-long chorus with 3rd grade rhyme scheme (preferably in a four part harmony)
- kick bass drum enters and probably the banjo, short musical interlude
- verse with same melody, just a little bit more aggressive
- same sing-a-long chorus (everyone in band a little more aggressive)
- everyone go crazy, thrash around like you’re really into folk music!
- yell sing til you’re red in the face
- end of song
seriously, listen to just about any of their songs and this formula is working like gangbusters for them.
b) the lyrics
so i’ve been told by fans that even if i don’t like the music, i should concentrate on the lyrics and all will be well. well i have done so, and fairly quickly realized i was apparently dealing with a man with the romantic sensibilities of a basement dwelling adolescent. folks, this is hardly the second coming of bob dylan or joni mitchell. i mean how many songs can you listen to about incomprehensible unrequited love, good lord. just for shits and giggles, let’s sift through some of their choicer observations:
‘your grace is wasted in your face
your boldness stands alone among the wreck
now learn from your mother or else spend your days biting your own neck’
okay mumford, so what you’re saying is i would have grace if it weren’t for my face? and my forthrightness is off in some sort of crash site? but i’m supposed to learn something unspecified from my mum or i’ll turn into a rabid masochist and be forced to do the impossible (my teeth can’t reach my neck personally). to be honest i don’t see the connection between these 3 facts. help me out here!
‘so tie me to a post and block my ears
i can see widows and orphans through my tears
i know my call despite my faults
and despite my growing fears’
so he’s in a sadomasochistic relationship? and is also into simulating deafness for some reason? but when he cries he sees people who’ve lost their loved ones? but in spite of this, and while still being tied to a post, he knows what he’s supposed to do despite being a useless bed-wetting twit. am i understanding this correctly?
‘you were cold as the blood through your bones
and the light which led us from our chosen homes
oh i was lost
so now i sleep
sleep the hours that i don’t weep
and all i knew was steeped in blackened holes
oh i was lost’
so there’s cold blood in this person’s body (because he’s singing to a lizard?) and cold light and the subject of the song was as cold as both? he didn’t know where to go. so he took a nap. and when he’s not napping he’s crying for some reason. now here’s a real doozy: all the knowledge that he had was ‘steeped’ in holes that were blackened? okay, steeped means it was soaked, so his knowledge was soaked in holes? and how can a hole be blackened? that suggests it was another color before they colored it in black? and why are we no longer talking about the cold lizard? i’m very confused.
i give up. where you see profound, i see babble. i’ve looked through a number of other song’s lyrics and i’ve found that mr. mumford loves to rhyme ‘heart’ and ‘start’ in just about every other song. he talks about being lost in almost every song. talks ad nauseum about losing love but gaining it. and all with a kind of unlinked mixing of metaphors that would make jack kerouac call foul. these are songs about nothing!
‘it was not your fault but mine
and it was your heart on the line
i really fucked it up this time
didn’t i my dear’
can anyone explain what that even means? or how it relates to the verses that precede it? it’s utter nonsense. and yet throngs of people sing this refrain nightly at their concerts as if it had some deeper meaning . . . and bingo! that is truly the crux of my feelings.
i wouldn’t have a problem with this band if they were embraced for their meaninglessness and their juvenile rhyme schemes and repetitive song structures, but that is not the case, instead they are embraced as poets. i think it’s probably because they have banjos.
3) the dave matthews
everyone does realize that every mumford and sons song could be a dave matthews song right? strip away the banjo and the folky kick beat, and you’ve basically got the same melodic quality and generic love sentiments that make up most of that other college fraternity/sorority favorite. not to mention their singing styles being so closely related. in fact here’s a video that proves that mumford and dave matthews are the same person:
i have nothing against dave matthews, really, he’s a talented musician, he obviously knows how to write a song, but it’s a vibe i just can’t get behind. same with mumford and sons and their faux profundity.
d) in conclusion
i just feel there are much more talented bands struggling to even get heard and this drivel goes multi-platinum, literally hundreds of thousands of albums! their new album has been nominated for album of the year at the grammy awards among numerous other accolades. so, honestly, what am i missing? i feel like the emperor is walking by with his privates flapping in the wind and no one is finding this in the least bit off-putting.
now if i had my way i would simply shut them out, let people love them, and ignore it. i’m certain i have tastes in music that are loathsome to many, but your love for this particular band has made them so terrifyingly ubiquitious that i can’t go anywhere without hearing the jangly intro to one of their songs playing over speakers that i can’t turn off. it surely must be one of dante’s unwritten circles.
so the way i see it, while this admission on my part might seem harsh (did you figure out that i hate this band? i’m sorry, i do, i can’t help it) and i’m sorry to criticize something you love, but by buying into it as you all have, you’re forcing your crap music on me and i have no say in it! it’s like you’ve tied me into the passenger seat of your car, you’ve set the car stereo to eleven, put on the mumford and sons box set (including b-sides) and we’re not stopping til we get to san francisco . . . or at least until my eardrums start bleeding.
so i submit that i can’t take hearing their music anymore and if telling you how crap this band is, and how much it’s ruining my day, helps in any way for it to more steadily disappear, i will risk your tears.
and then i’ll, i don’t know,
what would mumford and sons say about it, probably something like this:
‘i’ll drink your tears and forget my name/as i wander over a hill and eat some grass/there i’ll bring your heart a cake/and we’ll dance on in the cold, heart of your start, face in the wind.’ <crazy banjo, bass drum, acoustic guitar thrashabout>
see how easy this is.