With their new single “Believe,” Mumford & Sons sound less like the folkie band that made Babel a huge hit and more like a group gearing up to have its own Rock Band game. Last week, the British quartet announced that on their new album, Wilder Mind, (out May 4th), they’ve laid down their acoustic instruments in favor of an electric sound – and with new single “Believe,” they make good on this promise.
“Believe” actually starts out rather quiet, as Marcus Mumford sings, “I don’t even know if I believe/ Everything you’re trying to say to me” against a shimmering synth sound. The keyboards slowly build, and just as we brace ourselves for a blast of fiery banjo, Winston Marshall comes in with a squalling guitar solo that sounds like something from U2’s The Edge. Rolling drums follow, and now the song is transformed into a bona-fide rock tune. You can even visualize the fists pumping in the air and the crowds singing along to the catchy chorus “Say something, say something/Something like you love me.”
“Believe” is not a bad song, and there is no doubt that it’s going to be blaring out of radios this summer – the problem is that it sounds overly familiar. With their previous albums, Mumford & Sons drew from folk, country, and bluegrass – managing to make these sounds accessible to a mainstream audience that perhaps was not ready to embrace a band like, say, The Punch Brothers. Their old sound, like it or not, stood apart from the pack. But with “Believe,” it seems like the band is trying to blend in as opposed to standing out.
Mumford & Sons deserve credit for taking a huge risk with their music, but we won’t know until the entire album is out whether that risk pays off. But after hearing “Believe,” I gotta say I’m missing that banjo.