You might not be able to name one of their songs but I can almost guarantee you’ve heard one somewhere. From banking adverts to ITV’s coverage of the 2010 World Cup and every television show with a shred of ‘indie cred’ in between, Mumford & Sons have been everywhere. But none of this would have happened if they hadn’t been touring pretty much constantly since the release of their 2009 album Sigh No More. In addition to securing a diverse and wide-ranging fanbase, the band have also road-tested most of the songs that will go on to make up their upcoming album, Babel. The first single from the album, I Will Wait, is not only a song that has been forged in the fire of live-show-trial-and-error, it’s also a song that encapsulates the elements of their sound that has made them Britain’s best-loved folk rockers.
My main worry with this single was that Mumford would go along the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ route. Yes, that familiar banjo sound is there as is the repetitive refrain sung in Marcus Mumford’s trademark vocal. Yet for all the familiarity there’s something that’s almost intangibly different. There’s more of a folk sound to it than was found on their previous album, as well as a lot more soul in the harmonies led by Marcus’s vocals which sound almost hesitant, as though he’s holding back in a way. Despite the buoyant opening, the track falls back into this sense of hesitancy, as if the band are aware that their success brings the potential pitfall of the difficult second album and an inability to live up to the acclaim that Sigh No More garnered. For all this hesitancy though, the band really hit their stride with the chorus which swells with the refrain of “I will wait” which, although repetitive, manages to be anthemic rather than annoying as Marcus’s vocals take off and swoop and soar against the ever more triumphant sound created by the band. It wasn’t broke, they didn’t fix it, they’ve just let it grow.
I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons is out on 24th September via Gentlemen of the Road/Island Records