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Mumford And Sons
Sigh No More Hazel Sheffield , October 7th, 2009 10:31

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About a year ago, off the back of the emergence of one Laura Marling, someone in an ivory tower at music press headquarters christened a genre: new folk. It was meant to reflect the collective ambitions of one of the most inward looking musical gangs of recent years — a banjo-bothering, fiddling troupe that gatecrashed each other's tours and got together for a big back-slapping Christmas do in Cargo. They numbered Marling, Mumford And Sons, Johnny Flynn, Jay Jay Pistolet, Cherbourg and Peggy Sue among others. Noah And The Whale were in there at the start but then it all went wrong after frontman Charlie Fink got dumped by Marling for new-folk godfather, Marcus Mumford. Tabloid stuff, dear reader, tabloid stuff.

It's all gone rather the shape of the pear now, with Fink telling sob-stories to the Guardian about his second 'Laura Marling break-up' album, and word going quiet about the scene. The press tired of a tag that meant little other than to its proponents, who were too busy hanging around massaging one-another's egos over the rhyming dictionary to make any lasting impression.

From the ashes of this phenomenon rises another, stranger beast. Mumford And Sons have been gathering pace for the best part of a year, releasing a series of three EPs and cajoling malleable indie-kids into country dancing at festivals and gigs. A fourpiece clad more often than not in tweed and braces, Mumford And Sons are a burly band of solid folk musicians whose debut mounts three chords and plugs them senseless for the duration of its twelve tracks. What piqued interest — perhaps only for the fact that it was so far removed from ubiquitious 'indie' — in EP format, lacks any subtlety and humility when extended to album length. Whether this lowest-common-denominator approach to folk will convince early fans on release will be a measure of the mass.

And the plot doth thicken with the lyrical content of this album. Sigh No More is shot through with Christian iconography, from the hymnal 'Awake My Soul' to the country gait of 'Roll Away Your Stone', with its ruminations on grace and sin. The whole biblical theme comes to a furious climax in 'Dust Bowl Dance', with Mumford screaming 'there will come a time when I will look in your eye/ You will pray to the god that you've always denied/ I'll go out back and I'll get my gun/ I'll say you haven't met me, I am the only son.' It's quite remarkable to catch such brazen religious themes on what is, essentially, a pop record — more remarkable still that for the majority of listeners the Christian intent in this will fly beneath the radar.

Maybe it's commendable in a world where materialism and disposability proliferate to write for a higher power, but it can't but make the conscious listener shift uncomfortably, like being trapped in an evangelical church when everyone's clapping with their eyes closed.

What's missing here, apart from an antidotal dose of Dawkinism, is a modicum of self-restraint. Sigh No More is so earnest it weeps holy water, from theatrical drum rolls to jiggedy banjo riffs to trumpeting fanfares that are too bloody obvious to swallow. Pomp and pop are common bedfellows — but with Jesus squeezed between them, three's too many for your average proverbial duvet.

nopes
Nov 15, 2009 4:40am

I love that theres an issue with Jesus squeezed in... but if you wanted to express any other religious undertones say buddism, krishna, earth worship, or even anti-Jesus sentiment, people would think its the coolest! Mumford can express anything he wants in his own music...lets not get all "White people love bagging Jesus but anything other spiritual expression is fine" on this.

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what
Nov 16, 2009 11:25am

Im an athiest, and I think if any spiritual undertones if it fly over the heads of the majority of the populous, who bloody cares?! In the end, song is open to full interpretation of the listener. People who like it will be attracted to Sigh No More because it's convincingly emotive, quaint and rustic. If they choose to let religious references impede on their listening, then bad luck to them!

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Dec 13, 2009 9:44pm

So it's a bad album because it includes some religious references.
Great Review

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John
Dec 22, 2009 1:45am

Since when does religion automatically = "antidotal... Dawkinism"?

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Peter Kutuzov
Jan 4, 2010 1:16pm

I do find it amusing that the comments here demonstrate that it is only a certain perspective which finds spiritual content a barrier to enjoying the music.

@Hazel: What is it about a personal faith issue in lyrics that offends you so much? Is there any particular content you particularly dislike?

Should Christian reviewers have only ever given negative reviews to the early Black Sabbath albums? I bloody well hope not!

On the comments about being overly theatrical and obvious, the raw and genuine nature of the songs give them a power that makes me want to hear that epic sound. If it sounded contrived to my ears, then I've probably have a similar opinion to you. As it is, I've been caught by the spell.

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Jono
Jan 11, 2010 9:10am

In reply to :

'So it's a bad album because it includes some religious references. Great Review'

My sentiments exactly. The album is amazing.

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Jan 25, 2010 5:49pm

great article apart from the last 2 paragraphs.
Its like they were written by a different person. Starts insightful then ends in a damning of the EP... shame.

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Bart Wang
Jan 31, 2010 10:22pm

The Wang appreciates that others have commented on the weakness of this "review". Just tell us that you are not a Christian. That's fine. Next! Bart loves M&S. He's enjoyed picking up more and more imagery they used throughout the album as he listens to it further. And the suggestion that those lyrics in 'Dust Bowl Dance' are the "climax" of biblical imagery suggest you haven't read the Bible yourself. Jesus is going to shoot someone? Not likely.

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Matt Harris
Feb 8, 2010 7:07pm

So in a nutshell, you don't like it because the Jesus talk makes you feel uncomfortable? What happened to impartiality in Journalism?..Man I should stop listening to Johnny Cash, he turned Christian right?

you really fucked it up this time didn't you, my dear?

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patrick
Feb 10, 2010 4:02pm

The pursuit and struggles of trying to reconcile perception and experience with faith, and the personal relationships and confrontations that develop during that pursuit, may be a little weighty for some. I see it as the band's honesty with itself and the reason why its truly a great record.

Would you rather they pluck lyrics from some cocaine driven, traditional rock n' roll rhyming dictionary? No. I want to hear the voice and beliefs of the person that's singing the song they feel they need to sing.

Anything else would be American Idol.

You're a shit reviewer.

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Feb 19, 2010 7:50am

I choose to interpret the spiritual theme of this album as...spiritual...not christian. Further more you don't have to be religious or christian to believe in things like forgiveness and love etc.

In relation to M+S this review lacks objectivity. Thi si the first review I have read on this sight...and probably the last.

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Rodney
Mar 10, 2010 12:23pm

I think your comment is true that "for the majority of listeners the Christian intent in this will fly beneath the radar." In my opinion this is what makes the album great. The whole story is not obvious on first listen, but as you spend more time listening to the lyrics, the true meaning is uncovered layer by layer. On a superficial level the music is entertaining, but it fascinates me that a deeper meaning lies within, Christian or not.

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kristy
Mar 10, 2010 6:55pm

I just bought this album this morning on itunes after only hearing a couple songs once. loved it. it wasn't until I listened to it a few times that I started seeing all the Christian imagery. I am a Christian...I am even a ministry director at my church... but haven't bought "christian" music in a long time because most of it is so cheesy. And it's usually bought first because it's "christian" and second for any talent the artist hopefully has. I LOVE that this album is real. Stories of struggle and life with the role of Christianity playing a part just like any other part of life of the author. I love that it can be balanced and love that it can be included without being a "christian" album. just real life. Most other music carries world views, but unless it's blatantly christian nobody gets offended.

I agree... I initially thought that the last two paragraphs were written by someone else.

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evamaria
Mar 11, 2010 9:35pm

why is it we are so afraid of art that has a little "Jesus squeezed in"? A music reviewer would likely never give a bad review to a band because of their atheist innuendoes or new aged ideas, or their God-bashing. Whether you're a Christian or not, most people would agree that Jesus was a pretty cool guy and the idea of love and grace and forgiveness and hope...all pretty great things too. [Good] Artists are motivated by love, faith, spirituality, pain, confusion, anger...and they write music that engages the listener and touches the each recipient differently. If you don't enjoy the music itself, then don't buy the album. But please don't waste our time with a poorly written review based on your fear of anything too Jesus-infused. Music, like any form of art, is usually an expression of something complex and multifaceted, up for interpretation. It is meant to take us on a journey and to refresh our souls....M&S do just that, whatever side of the Jesus-spectrum you sit. It is clear that while M&S have deeply spiritual and though-provoking lyrics and composition, they are not your stereo-typical Christians and one should refrain from giving them a listen based on ignorant fear.

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Dave Thompson
Mar 21, 2010 12:22am

Nonsense. This review is far more up itself than the album. Get a real job.

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YourMumford
Mar 30, 2010 10:17am

In reply to Dave Thompson:

You sir, are a cunt!

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Nathaniel
Apr 29, 2010 6:49am

Good review, but it was drenched in athiestic undertones. What was truely missing was "a modicum of self-restraint".

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Another Matt
May 3, 2010 8:58am

In reply to Matt Harris:

This is a critical review of an album. How does one do that impartially, exactly?

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tiffany
Jun 3, 2010 4:53pm

whether you personally agree with M&S's lyrics spiritually or not is neither here nor there. bottom line is their spirituality is part of what makes them so amazing. what else could empassion a song more than building it with a person's deepest beliefs as the foundation? there is a sense of accountability to the music you make when it's intertwined with your soul. when the lyrics mean something, the composer isn't going to compromise the music that goes with it. i'm thrilled that there are artists out there like M&S who are writing songs that have substance. it's a rare thing these days to find musicians who hold themselves to such a high musical and personal standard.

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Dunahoo, John
Jun 4, 2010 1:46pm

In reply to tiffany:

good to see grace spoken so well by M&S. If it makes folks uncomfortable then perhaps they'd prefer other things like hope "
fly over the radar" in their world...

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Sigh
Jun 23, 2010 3:08am

Don't you think this is the last thing the band wants people fighting over?

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Mr.T
Jun 23, 2010 10:42am

I think that you may have hit a clanging chord in what was a measured article with the criticism of of the spiritual undertones of the music. Surely for the people who like reading lyrics and understanding what a song writer is trying to say, they will usually apply curiosity and thought to what they are reading or hearing. I find that what develops is an appreciation even if there is not total agreement in the themes or content of the songs.

But I agree that the meaning slips unnoticed for most whether it be spiritual or anything else. There a Christian themes running in Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire and obviously U2. One of the songs that has become an anthem for some is Florence and the machine's cover of "You've got the love" taken from a Candy Staton Gospel album originally. Or you could look at Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil, or John Lennon's - Imagine. I personally wouldn't want to get at the content of any of the the above.

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Thaddeus
Jul 6, 2010 2:18pm

Wonderful review, the responses appear to be fuelled by far too much NME reading for far too long. Hazel, how come you're the only one who picked up on these themes in the first round of reviews? It all seemed so obvious! And then there was the Guardian article where certain band members denied their own religious beliefs in a bid to sell more records. Oh dear.

Btw, it seems pretty objective to me by one of the few music journalists who bothers with arduous stuff like er... research.

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Joesteel
Jul 8, 2010 7:27pm

Finally a review that recognizes the overtly religious message. I have heard Christian rock music with less religious metaphors in it. I bought this in hopes of hearing some simple, honest, unsynthesized music. In turn I get a sermon done by Cold Play in plaid. To use loosely strung together metaphors to help the listener create there own meaning for a song is one thing, but to be so blatant as to not give the listener a choice is inviting critism. Music like this should be classified under "religious" in order to protect the rational. It's a shame I can not get my money back.

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Hoonerific
Jul 12, 2010 3:47am

In reply to Joesteel:

To protect the rational?!? The lyrics "there is a design, an alignment, a cry of my heart to see the beauty of love as it was made to be," sure it has religious overtones, but you would consider this phrase to be invasively irrational?

I'd hate to live in your world, my friend.

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Will
Jul 21, 2010 4:54am

In reply to Hoonerific:

There's not an issue with Jesus being squeezed in, there's an issue with a certain type of religiosity - the type M&S seem to like. Lyrics are one of the most important parts of music, and M&S's lyrics aren't very interesting. Once you tire of the music, there's nothing left to keep you listening.
Their music has a sort of homely, nostalgic feel about it - which might actually partly be the religious lyrics - and it's not bad, but I still don't really enjoy listening to it for that reason.
As a side note, I'm not an atheist. (Or religious.)

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Jul 24, 2010 10:02pm

Its clear all you commenters came to this review with your minds made up on the album, and I fail to see anyone actually consider the content of the review besides the religious reference at the end. It is distracting and unnecessary, but its not the whole review. Anyways, it doesn't matter what the review says, because you would have flamed it anyways because it didn't fit your ideas.

M&S is a shame to indie and folk.

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joe taylor
Jul 28, 2010 12:44am

Surely the beauty of the lyrics should be enough. You could say they were religious or if your not a christian, it couyld quite easily be seen as just lovely imagery. Why argue about something so silly, grow up people and let's move on!

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Rachel
Aug 1, 2010 7:30pm

Spot on review. First two paragraphs show you know the genre...

As someone brought up christian-now atheist, I can see the way the religious theme runs completely through it, this is a group who must have been brought up on Victorian hymns and Matt Redman. Not too sure what I think of that.

I'm more interested in how the group begs for authenticity and approval. Don't get me wrong, I really like the album, and listen to it a lot, but having watched the official video of Little Lion Man, it wasn't the religion that made me uncomfortable but more that it seemed they saw a good thing and decided to hop on the bandwagon, got picked up more quickly then other great artists (Peggy Sue, Alessi's Ark, Rachael Dadd) then became the over manufactured cheapened mainstream version of their intentions, yet seem to want to capitalise on this. Wearing tweed, waistcoats, and taking out the cords from their 'electric instruments' to make them appear acoustic is not the way to go.

I think their live performances shine through more in smaller places, where the melodies/ harmonies their singing has not been retuned and the words they sing aren't treated so badly you can't hear how they were originally pronounced.

I'm in two minds about this album. and I think my third mind is just going, stop being so pretentious, nothing is authentic and they just like wearing waistcoats,

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ha
Aug 3, 2010 5:02am

wow good article i can tell from the comments that everyone loved it.

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Aug 16, 2010 4:30am

Someone's a hopeless cynic ... Must be an unhappy place where you're too frightened to feel anything as uncool as letting yourself experience a lack of self-restraint. Ex-Christian here, who loves the paradox in the line "Oh the shame that sent me off from the God that I once loved, was the same that sent me into your arms." Some of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever heard. I can totally identify.

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your mom
Aug 25, 2010 12:20am

In reply to Joesteel:

the rational listener needs some good ole censorship, huh? ironic. and the listener does have a choice. if you don't want a "sermon," don't listen to the album. don't we want music that the artist makes for himself and not for the audience?

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Keith
Sep 1, 2010 2:01pm

In reply to Another Matt:

To quote a great film "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." It's a work of criticism, which is not to say a damned good moan.

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elizabethcooke
Sep 12, 2010 8:51pm

The question of Christianity has been on my mind ever since hearing the full album as it seems that there is a line of Christian reference that runs through it. It's only today though that I decided to check (too busy or too apathetic, who knows?) but I do know that this album excites me and I am looking forward to more. In the meantime, Christianity or not, I'm going to play it over and over. In addition, I've not heard any bias with regard to the spiritual element so it probably has gone over the heads of most but maybe a little hope and spirituality is what we need? I don't know, I just love it. MORE PLS!!

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Sep 13, 2010 3:20am

Marcus' parents were involved in the church (I forgot what they do exactly, but it's mentioned in some other articles about him. This vague fact isn't really helping my argument, but I assure you that it's true), so of course religion's going to be reflected in his lyrics.

This reviewer needs to brush up on their American literature. On the album there's a song called "Timshel", an obvious reference to John Steinbeck's East of Eden. From that we learn he likes to write about books and he's a Steinbeck fan, which also means "Dust Bowl Dance" is probably influenced by The Grapes of Wrath.(I shouldn't even use "probably" be cause Marcus has mentioned the influence the two novels have had on the album several times. Even without that, it's pretty easy to figure it out on your own). So the lyric quoted in the article isn't based on personal experience.

These lyrics are well-written with meaningful subject matters that have some value to them. That's all that should be considered about the lyrics when reviewing the record.

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Chris
Sep 16, 2010 10:26pm

Fantastic album. Shame about the review, seems unecessary to bring this sort of prejudice to a review of extraordinary folk music.

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c0nd3mend
Oct 3, 2010 4:19am

In reply to nopes:

this isn't spiritual, it's christian... it's also not folk, it's, you guessed it, christian...

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c0nd3mn3d
Oct 3, 2010 4:22am

In reply to what:

no spiritual undertones here... rife with, paradoxically, insidious christian overtone, however... so, bad luck to me; i'll stick with my spiritualism...

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c0nd3mned
Oct 3, 2010 4:25am

In reply to :

no, it's a christian album because it contains all christian references... do many other religions share things in common with christianity? of course, but this album isn't selling any of those other religions...

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c0nd3mn3d
Oct 3, 2010 4:29am

In reply to Peter Kutuzov:

there is no spiritual content here... you are confusing that word with some other... "superstitious" i guess... "religious"... "of faith"... perhaps you will know if you become spiritual some day...

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c0nd3m3d
Oct 3, 2010 4:35am

In reply to Jono:

could be considered amazing by someone who isn't sickened by the proselytizing of christian music... beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, after all... i wouldn't care for insidious music of any kind, this included...

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c0nd3mn3d
Oct 3, 2010 4:42am

In reply to Matt Harris:

why does being uncomfortable with 'jesus talk' make the author something other than impartial... it doesn't... what the song is about is a part of what determines whether or not any given reviewer likes any given song... in this case, we can extent that to album... the reviewer doesn't like what it's about, and thus doesn't like it... duh... not partial...

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c0nd3mn3d
Oct 3, 2010 4:45am

In reply to Chris:

correction, "christian music," not "folk music"...

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c0nd3mn3d
Oct 3, 2010 4:59am

In reply to :

christianity isn't the only fantasy having meaningful and valuable subject matter... should a reviewer then take seriously and give favorable uncategorical review to the likes of children's music or, say, songs about peter pan or aesop's fables... no..

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c0nd3mn3d
Oct 3, 2010 5:03am

In reply to elizabethcooke:

ooh, ooh... brainwash me, too...

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c0nd3mn3d
Oct 3, 2010 5:08am

In reply to your mom:

exactly, and if you want a sermon, listen to this christian music... fine by me... and fine, i'm sure, by the reviewer... just, the reviewer's discretion is to not give high marks to proselytizing... can't see why that would be a problem for anyone...

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nolan
Oct 7, 2010 1:22pm

Oh man, these comments are harsh! Hazel, these people are mostly right. You aren't a very even-handed reviewer, and your impartiality toward religion is a tad embarrassing. Also, this is a very awesome record, and I think the honesty of Mumford (if he is the songwriter) is what makes the album truly special. Without this honesty, this "new folk" would feel a bit hokey. As it is, one of the more refreshing things I've heard in awhile. Better luck next review Hazel!

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Shelley Shoemaker
Oct 21, 2010 12:20am

I bought this album after hearing one song, b/c I love a good ol banjo and I have been pleasantly surprised. Only in listening to it the last couple of days have I begun to realize the religious undertones, so I googled it.....and yep, I was right. And I'm thrilled to find some "Christian" music that I actually like! Yes, most Christian rock seems cheesy...and this is not, I think its freakin awesome actually and this reviewer sucks!

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Tara
Oct 26, 2010 5:06pm

Really? Are we complaining about hidden meanings in songs now. I'm just happy to have lyrics that don't repeat three words and a voice changer throughout the whole song. I love songs that have a meaning, a message, that make me think a little. Their songs make me want to listen to them again and again not only for the wonderful rhythm, harmony but yes for the great lyrics.

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Tara
Oct 27, 2010 5:36pm

In reply to Tara:

I listened to the album again after reading your article. You really had to dig deep try to find any negative agenda. Yes, there are some religious lyrics sprinkled into the songs but only as a beautiful addition to an already moving song. If you play it backwards it says "get a life."

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Oct 28, 2010 1:43am

In reply to Tara:

I would bet that any of these mouth breathers that claim to be offended by some pseudo Christian lyrics aren't truly offended at all. They just like to hear themselves bitch and moan about something they really don't understand. They base their belief on Christianity by the few news articles about Christians (who aren't really Christians) that do stupid things. And being anti-religious is oh, sooooo cool. Morons.

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yo
Oct 31, 2010 10:51pm

Personally, I find that the subtlety with which they intersperse these religious allusions is brilliant. As you say, "for the majority of listeners the Christian intent in this will fly beneath the radar." In my opinion for an album to be so riddled with Christian iconography and yet have it so subtlely hidden that the large majority of people don't even notice it is the mark of a true lyricist.
This is one of the greatest albums on the music scene I've seen for a while... we should celebrate Mumford's expression of religion rather than bashing it. It's brilliant.

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Andrew
Nov 2, 2010 10:54pm

WHAT IN THE WORLD Hazel?!? I'm extremely disappointed in your maturity level as a writer. You talk about self restraint but show none in your bashing of mixing religion with Pop. In my mind a journalist--especially someone reviewing MUSIC has the responsibility to go on the quality of SOUND and the CREATIVITY of the lyrics not attack the artist for that they believe. If Hazel Sheffield has a problem with references to Jesus.. more like a problem with some people who have "represented" him then the editor or owners of this newsletter needs to get someone less biased to review cd's that include references to religion.

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Nov 8, 2010 5:12am

In reply to c0nd3mn3d:

What's wrong with children's music? Most of it isn't too good, but not all of it is bad. For example, They Might Be Giants' kids' albums are great!Just saying that there aren't songs about getting wasted at a crazy party or love songs that are really vague and cliche. Here, they actually try for some substance in the lyrics.

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chuck
Nov 15, 2010 11:52am

Uhh...Have you listened to the lyrics and seen them live? These lyrics play with god vs. satan undertones all the way with the protagonist (mumford) seemingly swaying the satan way. It is actually a little creepy. Now, I love this music and am more about the lyrics then the music, but you have to actually listen hard to understand. Thats why this review sucks.

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Ashley
Nov 19, 2010 6:38pm

I definitely didn't miss the Christian intent of this album. It isn't too bad though... I'm not Christian in any way, and carry a slightly anti-western-Christian sentiment, but I don't hate this band simply because they mention a stone being rolled away.
It stays pretty introspective, as far as I'm concerned. It's not "worship music" where we all sing "You are the only theistic being, all others will go to hell while we dance and sing in Valhalla."

I like the introspective musings, as well as the encouraging nature of the music. It's not like "Christian music" in that it addresses real life struggles, real life trauma (although not directly), and not some made up shit about how "I've failed you, God, and now I need you to forgive me." It's more like, "things may really be falling onto your shoulders right now and it's alright. You're stuck here, but there's grease to move these wills within your reach."

Something I really have needed lately is just what Mumford and Sons has got to offer. Some of their lyricism writes right into my own storybook.

We all run into an album that really helps us out of a rut though. This just happens to be mine.

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simon
Dec 6, 2010 9:50pm

haha, this review got some scathing reviews. rightly so... if a christian guy wants to sing about God how is that worse than someone who worships money singing about diamonds?

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ChillyMost
Jan 9, 2011 5:17am

Ha...I was so angry after I read this review, and now after reading the comments I am happy again. Ms. Sheffield, I hope you have subsequently re-listened to this album and reconsidered what humility means. And surely if this music is "obvious", then we would have heard this music before. I for one am glad not to have the typical "folk" self-seriousness present in every pained lyric and struck note. I am, in fact, I lifelong folk-hater and yet M&S has burned a hole in my iTunes from overplaying.

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S
Jan 10, 2011 7:43pm

I think "Dust Bowl Dance" is about Cain. He killed his brother Abel so he is the "only son".

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Jan 10, 2011 11:14pm

If they're so Christian, why is the F-word repeated often in one of their songs?

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lj
Jan 11, 2011 11:45pm

In reply to :

Ummmm... I was happy to see someone else realized the comments about christian content were in the minority of the review. What I LIKED about the album (I noticed the Christian connection immediately) is the "new folk" sound. I like the term. I like the homespun quality. I guess I don't swing indie. Wonder what the second album will "deal with" and if they can include a fourth or fifth chord.

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Justin
Jan 24, 2011 2:50pm

Atheists, hear this.

This is a folk record that panders to a modern audience. Folk music ALWAYS assumes that God plays a part. In folk music, God is always the third character. All these criticisms you type are just pompous self-panderings because you thwart anything that includes God. These are a gifted bunch of passionate artists. Now go play with your atheist friends and keep pretending you are an elite group of "rational people"

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Jer
Feb 17, 2011 3:40am

In reply to Justin:

Folk music does not always assume god is involved, nor is M&S's music "Christian Music"

Ani Difranco is an established folk singer who's music is full of passion, spirituality, and often iconography - yet she is Atheist. The song "Judith" by A Perfect Circle has lyrics that are "shot through with Christian iconography" - That alone does not make it 'Christian Music'.

Why M&S songs not "Christian" (besides them stating so themselves) is that the message of their songs are not centered around apologetics like self proclaimed "Christian" musicians.

I am atheist and love their music - its "Human Music"

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jrshipley
Feb 23, 2011 12:16am

It's a good album and catchy. I think what people find a bit off-putting, and in a way dishonest, is that they don't present themselves as singing Christian hymns, the hooks get in your head, then you're like "hey, wait a minute" and you feel like you've been tricked. I would feel the same way about a stealth Muslim band or a stealth Buddhist band, although (not having grown up in an Islamic or Buddhist context) I might not notice. The fact that their songs are Christian hymns is barely concealed, yet they insist "We're not a Christian rock band as such." Mmmmm hmmmmm. Was that a crow I just heard?

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Heather
Feb 25, 2011 1:50am

In reply to jrshipley:

I'm sorry, but a hymn is: a religious song or poem, typically of praise to God or a god. I wouldn't say there is anything hymnal about any of the songs.

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Feb 25, 2011 3:47am

In reply to nopes:

totally agree with nopes ... it's cool to bash christianity but all other spiritual expressions are good ... let's not be hypocritical ...

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Feb 25, 2011 6:26am

Wow. Lol. Lame review.

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Bill Kresowaty
Feb 26, 2011 5:00pm

Exactly! You expressed my discomfort with this album eloquently and precisely. I'm a lover of "folk" music and hopeful that the new folk movement takes us to new heights, with thoughtful, soulful, creative music, but not this juvenile, egoistic mumbo jumbo. I don't denigrate spiritualism per se, but can't abide the half-baked, self-indulgent, pretentious variety, no matter from which religious or new age tradition.

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beckymawson
Mar 28, 2011 11:31am

cant believe in this day and age people get offended about christian lyrics in a song, loads of people write about god in there lyrics, u2, alicia keys..and so on.
its what obviously is important to them and drives them to write and perform such natural art. i think its great. xx peace be with them

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jeffwithag
Mar 28, 2011 9:29pm

I'm guessing that all of the people who criticized this review are christians or closely associated/comfortable with christian culture...totally understandable they'd be angry because finally some good music that isn't as cookie cutter or cheesy or outright "I'm a Jesus freak and I'm proud of it" stupid as bands like third day... I'm a recovering brainwashed fundamental christianaholic who was one of those people stuck in a church with everyone closing their eyes and clapping... to be honest I don't want anything to do with it any more it's caused more harm than good overall for me in my life and is in my opinion radical and extreme....all that aside to the average secular person who trusts their mind more than the preacher's like mumfords dad's surely heartfelt stories of a simple salvation doctrine this is pretty clearly fundamental christian lyrics throughout the entire album and while these guys don't seem to be as brainwashed or reigned in as the HillSongs crew through and through a holier than though "humility" of simplifying the christian faith down to the heart and mind and flesh and death and purpose is what every fundamental bible church uses as the basis of converting people by relating to simple emotional/life concepts and applying them to suit their faith....I don't want religion shoved down my throat and it definitely wasn't too difficult at all for me to pick up on the blatant christian faith based over/undertones of this entire album....the average listener probably doesn't know what they're saying sure...and that's why they made it big besides the fact that it's great music objectively speaking...yet however catchy and moving it might be as music the content punches me in the face track after track and the obvious does get too hard to swallow when it seems they are almost trying to subconsciously address/challenge people's faith throughout....I'm just not interested and it really bothered me because I like everything else about it...but the songs are so centered around the wors that even I who usually don't catch most of what a group is saying can't seem to not catch almost every phrase of this album...It makes me wish I was just one of the masses who doesn't see what's at the heart of this...Not that I think it's based on bad proud intentions...the fact is when you believe you know the true religion/god above all other people's faith you are inadvertantly as could be and as hardheaded, naive, and proud as can be in this life...

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Truth
Mar 31, 2011 7:00pm

In reply to Justin:

Wow Justin. Hypocrite.

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domizgood
Apr 2, 2011 7:35pm

In reply to Truth:

The way the lyrics are delivered makes this 1 of the best albums iv ever listened too. Yes this has Christian faith references. If you like this that's great if you don't that's great it's your free will to buy this or not. Another thing I really like is that he swears which isn't Christian it's from his human side and when is swears in this song he really means it. PS I'm Christian Im human I'm not perfect I sin and I swear from time to time

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Jeanette
Apr 7, 2011 3:36pm

Look around and get real. Live outside your bubble! They are connecting precisely BECAUSE today's gen is more spiritual than gens past. They want some meaning and substance and they're open to looking at ALL things spiritual...even Christianity - heaven forbid. How about respecting the band's right to express themselves and the listener's right to choose. Just cause it offends you - pretty arrogant.

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Evan Cusick
Apr 21, 2011 10:49am

In reply to :

I didn't know Christians weren't allowed to use certain words? Better go check the bible about that one.

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Green
Apr 26, 2011 6:25pm

When I first listened to this sigh no more, I picked up on all the religious undertones. Because in alot of the songs I can relate to and see his struggle. But there is so much truth in what he says thats about that good book, that every miserable person who believes in nothing wants to discredit but never can. Ive learned one thing through coming of my faith and its "love". Also, that people who are miserable and have no beliefs they HATE to see people happy and positive b.c they cannot obtain this, therefore they discredit and want to destroy everything positive. This whole Sigh no more makes me happy and smile and it's one of the best to hit the radio's and pop charts in a long time.
Glory to God

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Apr 26, 2011 6:29pm

In reply to simon:

dead on simon dead on.....finally positive influence in pop culture instead of shakin ass fucking on money doin coke and fuckin everyone in the ass.

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kate
Apr 26, 2011 11:11pm

It is so funny that so many Americans and in general, Westerners, are so afraid of Christianity. I understand that you may have gotten shat on my westernized religion, but you have to know that that isn't what spirituality is all about. Right? I think it is ignorance when someone can bash a religion when they know so little about it, as it is also ignorant when religious groups bash others. For all you know, the lyrics could be Muslim or Mormon. M&S have a lot of balls exposing such a personal side of themselves to a culture that looks down upon Christianity because of the bad examples that have come before. Did anyone refer to John Lennon as "An Atheist Singer"? Do you know that artists such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Sufjan Stevens, and KRS-One are openly Christian and have released many songs with spirtually based lyrics? If you are so worried about Christian lyrics, then maybe you should criticize George Harrison's Krishna music or Bob Marley's Rastafarian music, or Cat Steven's Muslim music.... just throw out all the great music that came from religion!

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Joe
Jun 17, 2011 3:27pm

In reply to Matt Harris:

This is not news. What does impartiality have to do with it. It's a review. An impartial review would read, "M and S have an album." The facts are not his job.

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Caroline
Jun 20, 2011 6:54pm

I'm Catholic and I enjoy the little Christian themes slipped in. I do enjoy Christian music, but I love music like this even more.

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Anne
Jun 26, 2011 11:35pm

I like this album not so much because there are religious undertones, but because there CAN BE religious undertones if you interpret them that way. Interpretation can be a choice as well as something you pick up while listening. M&S have done 'spiritual' lyrics subtly enough that they either fly over heads or connect with those who appreciate them. I disagree with the idea that any Christian meanings are obvious and 'proselytizing' (anyone who says this has never been proselytized at). These are songs for lots of different kinds of people and have different possible interpretations, whether religious, romantic or just plain deep.

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Gene
Aug 9, 2011 10:58pm

Our own Hazel Sheffield writes elsewhere about U2: "Production aside, the spiritual fervour of songs like “Pride” is made for those Glastonbury moments of near-mystical significance." Something doesn't add up about all this.

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Christian
Aug 25, 2011 7:40am

I came across this article searching to see if anyone else was moved by the music and themes of this album. It's best album and best band and I've heard in a very long time. This isn't a Rolling Stones review so I don't mind the clear bias here, it reads like an opinion piece. The pace and progression of this music is truly beautiful. The themes of jesus christ are apparent to those who know scripture but his name is never mentioned. I believe this band had more than a modicum of self restraint, and restraint from what exactly? When should an artist restrain themselves. I promise you would ask the same thing if someone said you needed an antidotal dose of monotheism and that you should restrain your opinons. I believe this band has done exactly what it has set out to do and they've accomplished it beautifully. I really don't think a band like this has set out to be at the top of the pop charts and I'm pretty sure they know they aren't for everyone. I don't consider music like this pop, only because I can't put them and katy perry in the same category. This is real music with vocals, melody, and crescendo the likes I've never heard in blue-grass or the like. I anxiously await there next album.

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chris
Aug 28, 2011 7:48pm

I am an atheist and I enjoy this album immensely. The religious themes within did not pass under or over my radar and I think it is pompous of the reviewer to assume that most listeners are so unsophisticated that he/she could see something WE the mere population would miss.

The album is unabashedly Christian in many of its themes. Its lyrics are sometimes clunky (in that they don't scan well) and often highly pretentious.

But you know what? I don't care. It is a great album. It will not convert me to religion, but it is my current favourite album despite the evangelising.

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Jeremy
Sep 2, 2011 7:07pm

I always thought Mumford and Sons was ANTI mainstream Christianity. It seems they want to do good by treating others with respect. There is no "commandments" to follow, only morals based on equality. I have a feeling they have a very open perspective on things, not disregarding anything and not blindly accepting anything either.

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Taina Diaz
Oct 15, 2011 2:44pm

I love what they're doing with this album

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to Wang
Nov 2, 2011 3:53am

In reply to Bart Wang:

I think in Dustbowl Dance it is not referring to Jesus shooting someone, but rather when Jesus decides to defeat Satan and his demons once and for all.

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anon
Nov 14, 2011 1:58am

This reviewer is just an angry atheist... ha

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Michael
Jan 3, 2012 9:40pm

It's curious that Hazel chose to single out Dust Bowl Dance as the "furious climax" of the Christian imagery, when the song has been explicitly attributed to the Grapes of Wrath...see the American Songwriter interview.

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Jan 3, 2012 9:42pm

In reply to Bill Kresowaty:

How does this album strike you as "pretentious"?

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Jan 3, 2012 9:43pm

In reply to to Wang:

Wang, see my comment below. They attribute the lyrics to Steinbeck.

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Girl
Jan 11, 2012 5:40am

You suck. Seriously. You suck. Forgive me for being so eloquent and concise, but I just couldn't help it. You (whomever "you" really are) is quite obsessed with condemning musicians with religious undertones. Why? I am a Jew and I won't deny this music is so very wonderful. Musically (I am a violinist, big Jew surprise) I am trained and educated... so what's the BFD? BTW, "Dawkinism" is so awesome.

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Buttsy
Jan 20, 2012 9:23pm

In reply to Girl:

M&S Are a rare breed of brilliant folk musicians. I cant see a problem with the lyrics. Listen and enjoy.

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Anna
Apr 1, 2012 2:41pm

In reply to kristy:

Beautifully said!

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Fulvio Prian
Jun 17, 2012 5:10pm

When I got the grasp on the idea of the whole religious metaphors in "Sigh No More" i wasn't sure if i liked it. I'm not religious at all, but as i read into the lyrics and music i came to realize you don't have to agree with them to acknowledge that this album is beautifully made, the lyrics and music are completely synchronized to make the listener experience the emotions one could consider the theme of a specific song such as regret, love, forgiveness and many others Mumford and Sons has covered with a folky sound.

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Fulvio Prian
Jun 17, 2012 5:22pm

In reply to jeffwithag:

Look man, i understand you point, that was how i felt the first times i heard the album, it pissed me off that good music was targeted to preach. However i could not put aside that what they said, looked from their point of view was beautiful. Even though i don't share their opinion, with some tolerance to their beliefs and christians', i was able to appreciate good music and be moved by it without corrupting my own ideals. If you really enjoy their musical skills i suggest you try to listen to the album again keeping in mind that you don't have to agree with what is said to experience the same feelings and emotions.

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Sep 23, 2012 5:12am

In reply to Joesteel:

The religious overtones, in my opinion, dumb down the songs. If you have to sing about God, maybe it should be in church. Rational persons just don't believe because it is totally irrational. Don't push your agenda on persons that have no time for make believe in their lives.

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