Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More

Is the title true? This album's strict folk aesthetic, broken up occasionally by ornamental piano and the odd organ and brass, could be one big sigh, really. It's very well executed ("After The Storm" the artistic peak) and the guitar and string instrument work in particular is really super ("Roll Away Your Stone" and "Timshel" especially). But its indefatigable minimalism is its greatest conceit and its gravest flaw: largely bereft of percussion, and barely a rhythm section to speak of, it never gets going much and it mostly ends up sounding the same. The lyrics are also a mixed bag, running hot and cold over romance and religion, as determinedly unresolvable as the style. Their Celtic bluegrass fetish is relentless, but I like their technical skill and I like the flourishes, and I salute their truculence in defence of their ambiguity. For me it ends up an album for the quiet evenings when I need something murmuring on that I don't have to pay attention to. So, sigh, but only a little bit. (Content: F-bombs on "Little Lion Man.")