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On Babel: “We wanted to do something unashamed,” says Ben Lovett. “We’re confident and happy to be where we are as a band — everything that’s happened with us has exceeded expectations, and it’s all been a surprise, it’s all much bigger than what we were prepared for. So when we came to recording this record we had a choice: to shy away from that, or to realize that people dig what we’re doing, and make something robust, with that energy.”
It was December 2010, and Mumford and Sons had been on the road since the previous summer: a glorious, eventful, yet relentless time. Standing somewhere between exhilarated and exhausted, the plan now was for the band’s four members to spend a few weeks apart, write, recuperate, and then reconvene in Nashville in the New Year, with the intention of trying out material for their second album. The informality of the set-up in Tennessee perhaps helped to dispel any nerves they may have had about following up 2009’s Sigh No More — an album that had gone four times platinum in the UK, and twice platinum in the US. The band assembled in the front room of a house and set about sharing the songs they had been working on alone. “It was a coming together, a sharing of some stuff,” explains Lovett (keys, accordion, drums), “a pool of ideas that would come out of our time apart. So if there was nervousness, it wasn’t nervousness about the record, it was nervousness about how a couple of these new song ideas would go down. But we knew we were going to play music, and it wasn’t time to get into the nuts and bolts of it, it was more like we were starting another year from this point. And that felt very good. Very fresh, and natural.”
More than anything, there is a real a sense of completeness to Babel, a satisfying wholeness and a kind of musical and lyrical wealth — romanticism tempered by strength and vigor; a brawniness balanced by beauty. “I think there’s more subject-matter on this album, and I think we’ve grown up a little bit,” says Mumford. “I feel like it’s more exposed, more naked. Ted always talked about wanting to make an album like a story,” he adds. “Not necessarily one that has a plot, but one that you can listen from top to bottom and it makes sense. I think that’s what we’ve tried to do, and what we’ve done.” Winston concludes, “And now we’ve finished it we can get touring again, which is what we set out to do when we started the band. Back to business.
Mumford & Sons release their new album, Babel, on the 24th September through Gentlemen of the Road/Island Records. A new single, I Will Wait, is released on the same date.