Regardless of your feelings towards Mumford & Sons as a band, it's undeniable that they have a knack for frustratingly addictive hooks, especially when their hits are considered back to back; Little Lion Man, I Will Wait and The Cave are instantly recognisable tunes, lead by singer Marcus Mumford's trademark drawl. But Delta, the group's fourth album, is airless in comparison. It's neither terrible nor amazing – just 14 tracks of entirely inoffensive, completely forgettable rock-pop-folk.
A lot of what's here works. The songs are largely standard in structure, and the group's harmonies are uniformly good. There's a giant stadium-sized rock tune straight out the door with 42, featuring an extended outro with Mumford howling to the heavens – the perfect fit for their upcoming Western Springs show. But they're the sort of emotional peaks you've heard 100 times over – and done better by bands such as The National or Florence and the Machine – and with structures as formulaic as these, by the time the climax of each song rolls around, it feels as though it has swung in unannounced.
Delta was produced by Adele's right-hand man, Paul Epworth, (Florence, London Grammar), and his warm textures and intricate percussion are an obvious strength to the record - the clarity in his production does much of the groundwork in pulling these songs closer to their potential. But the record is also littered with lyrical cliches and platitudes, and as a result whole tracks can pass by without an impact.
In what seems to be a staple for male indie-rock groups, there's inevitably a song called Woman; a straight-forward love song, Mumford remarks that he's "left in awe of the woman I adore," and a female voice, right on cue, hammers the point home with some wistful backing vocals. There are more stumbles elsewhere: "If I say I love you/well then I love you," on If I Say, or "love with your eyes/love with your mind," on Forever.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Epworth's production has pushed the group to be more experimental and it works on some tracks; Darkness Visible in particular is a genuinely thrilling, largely instrumental power-rock track. But elsewhere, Mumford's lyrics are swallowed by familiar noise, and the record adds nothing to the trajectory of music in 2018.
Mumford and Sons, Delta
Artist: Mumford and Sons
Verdict: A pleasant but forgettable collection of tepid indie-rock songs