When Mumford & Sons quietly released their debut album three years ago, nobody could have guessed that an acoustic folk group from London would go on to sell two million records in the U.S., play a Grammy set with Bob Dylan, and become one of the most popular bands in the world. So expectations are so high for their follow-up LP, Babel, that the quartet aims for the cheap seats with an arena-ready set of songs that makes banjo- and mandolin-fueled folk music sound like the new classic rock. And there are times when they effortlessly pull off this mix of campfire singalong and stadium rock: the forward-marching title track, the horn-kissed "Lover of the Light," and especially "I Will Wait," a hook-filled room shaker. But like Sigh No More, Babel is more a scattered collection of songs than a unified work, placing it squarely in folk's storied tradition.
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