Maybe because they know the soft verse is a prelude to the loud chorus to come. Why else cheer a line like "There'll be no comfort in the shade of the shadows thrown" unless you know you're gonna get to scream "Lover of the Light" with the band in a couple of seconds?
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- Watch Mumford & Sons perform a surprise live-set outside Tate Modern.
Maybe it's just the band's conditioning its audience, like keyboardist Ben Lovett's request that the audience get out the cellphones for "Believe" sample line: "I don't even know if I believe everything you're trying to say to me" , when a more communal uplifting moment would have been the line "Hope in the darkness, I will see the light" in "Ghosts That We Knew.
Incidentally, it's the first single the band didn't issue a video for. Marcus Mumford later made a point of saying that the band used to play untried songs every night, a practice which stopped when their under-rehearsed renditions would turn up on YouTube. And who could blame them? In hindsight, the Mumford narrative is pretty clear: Four dudes start a band, tour like crazy, write music on the road, unwittingly tip off a folk-rock revival, become super famous but remain totally down to earth.
Except none of that was planned from the beginning.
Watch Mumford & Sons play a tiny acoustic gig in a London pub
Their approach was to simply observe the band from a distance and see what unfolded. An early creative decision was to serialize the footage being collected to help people get to know the band, which became the Gentlemen of the Road series. We just kind of went along with whatever they did. His bandmate, the wiry Winston Marshall, looks every inch the s rock star — shoulder-length hair, blazer, skinny jeans,a shirt unbuttoned to Simon Cowell levels of indecency. Well, sort of. Out with the banjos, in with full drum kits and electric instruments.
We went into the studio with Aaron Dessner from The National at the end of the tour, around August We put a few songs down, and they had no acoustic instruments on them. Then we walked away from that and came back together four months later with that in our minds as a trail to follow.
Having crossed paths on the touring circuit, Dessner, the National guitarist who has become the go-to guy for artists from Sharon Van Etten to Local Natives, invited the band to his Brooklyn studio to thrash out some ideas. Songs such as The Wolf illustrate the shift; others, such as the slow shuffle of Snake Eyes and the funereal Only Love , are less dramatic. Mumford butts in.
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When it comes to football. Whereas Mumford provided most of the lyrics on Babel and Sigh No More , all four members contributed to this album. Some songs are instilled with a sense of melancholia, loneliness and doubt largely down to break-ups that Marshall and bassist Ted Dwane went through. I think writing is better felt than understood, in a way.
Are they gonna like it? That process has brought us all together, I think. Nor are they worried about upsetting fans expecting another collection of banjo aural thrill rides. I think a few people on the label might have scratched their heads and said okay, this is a bit different to how I expected it to be.
We just need to go about communicating what the album is about to people. But I think seeing it live will help connect the dots. Mumford stretches, yawns and pauses to consider whether there is anything that they might have done differently over the last eight years. And even then, I wanna keep moving.