The last time the world fell this in love with a bunch of posh softies, the singer went and married a movie star. But although Marcus Mumford followed suit, Babel is the real test as to whether his minstrels are the next Coldplay, or merely in the vicinity. "I'm gonna tear them dooooown," Marcus roars of his demons above the opening title track's bustling strings. His defiance carries into the enlivening 'I Will Wait' ("I'll be bold as well as strong, and use my head alongside my heart"); thank heavens there's no big-ass choir or suchlike to accompany the cojones.
It's not all tough talk, however. 'Holland Road' might be the saddest-but-prettiest thing since 'Someone Like You', as gut-wrenching horns wallow in self-destructive balladry ("I knew the effect of my shame, but you cut me down"). We also get tales of death ('Below My Feet'), downright depression ('Ghosts That We Knew') and premature bonking ('Lover's Eyes'); Marcus is wildly bleak, sometimes so much it feels phony, and every last verse feels like Keira Knightley should act in it.
'Below My Feet', like most of this band's ditties, morphs key-by-key into a rousing hootenanny of raging passion; it's a melody method they've trademarked with Babel and its few that don't follow this path are, well, un-Mumford. But to say they've evolved with this album would be wrong; even the best bits on here could have stemmed from Sigh No More. Still, 'Not with Haste' is the Hollywood ending we itched for ("I'll leave no time for a cynic's mind," Marcus howls) and when the chants are as gutsy and inspiring as these, evolution is pointless; those Big Leagues would be mad not to agree.
Tracks to download: 'Holland Road', 'Ghosts That We Knew', 'Lover of the Light', 'Below My Feet'
If you like this, you'll like: Coldplay, Dry the River, Laura Marling
Watch the video for Mumford & Sons' 'I Will Wait' below: