[Mumford & Sons’] highly anticipated sophomore record begins exactly where we might expect, and the rest of the LP that follows proves that this isn’t an attempt to smash any expectations with a sudden progression of their style. For those devotees looking for the Mumfords to evolve drastically, well, you’re out of luck. Babel’s not a new sentence in the book of Mumford & Sons – it’s what happens after an ellipses. And in many ways, that suits them just fine. It will most definitely suit their fans.
While the band is mostly known for their “Americana” sound, they also pull references from their side of the pond: from both classic British countryside folk and Celtic punk bands like The Pogues. Those influences run a little more clear on Babel – “Ghosts That We Knew” and “Reminder” are both soft, melancholy stunners born out of grassy hills and cockney-tinged tales told in wood-paneled bars. And “Broken Crown” is the boys at their angriest yet: “I’ll never be your chosen one,” Mumford sings lightly before launching into an all-out war over minstrel plucks. It’s a force of a song, and not your firmest pick nor hard-earned callous could weather that storm. — American Songwriter