Mumford And Sons

Ten or twelve years ago, Creed frontman Scott Stapp was on TV, talking about Zeppelin. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something along these lines: Zeppelin were, in their time, the biggest band in the world, and critics detested them until the popular consensus surrounding them simply became impossible to ignore; this was now, presumably, Creed’s time to make the same leap into acceptance. That didn’t happen, obviously. Creed sucked too completely. But Stapp was right about Zeppelin and the levels of critical disdain directed their way. In the first of his great column series “The Winners’ History Of Rock And Roll,” Steven Hyden posits Zeppelin as the band that caused the split between rock-fan taste and rock-critic taste. (Check the column for some mind-boggling quotes from back-in-the-day Zep reviews.) In this particular case, the rock critics got it wrong; these days, you’d be hard-pressed to find any music critic, of any school or discipline, who regards Led Zeppelin with anything less than awe. And this wasn’t the last time the critics got a hugely popular band wrong. That brings me to Mumford & Sons, the present-day biggest band in the world. As with so many others, critics (and, perhaps more importantly, those fans who profess to have critical taste-levels) tend to regard Mumford as, essentially, dogshit, even as shinier populists like Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga and Adele enjoy general-consensus critical acceptance and sometimes love. But after a couple of perverse-curiosity sick-day Mumford YouTube binges, I’m ready to say fuck all that. They’re good.

Now: Mumford are not Zeppelin. Obviously. Not even in the same galaxy. But in their sound, I hear trace elements of another band that once fell on Zep’s side of the fan/critic divide: AC/DC. That band’s secret weapon, as every reader of the great rock-critic contrarian Chuck Eddy already knows, was always drummer Phil Rudd. Rudd’s secret: He never played fills. Instead, his ceaseless boom-boom-boom heartbeat-pulse helped grant that band’s songs an irresistible forward momentum and lent them a secret connection to disco. Mumford, of course, have no drummer. So their secret weapon, it turns out, is frontman Marcus Mumford’s right foot. Mumford, during the band’s livelier songs, keeps time with nothing more than a kick drum. And with that kick drum, he keeps the band’s instrumental flights anchored to a simple, unrelenting 4/4 thump. Mumford are way less fun than AC/DC, of course, but that kick-drum pulse separates them from infinitely shittier nu-folk peers like the Lumineers the same way that Rudd helped prevent AC/DC from turning into, say, Bad Company. (And come to think of it, Mumford & Sons just sold more copies of Babel than any rock band [OK, fine, "rock band"] since AC/DC dropped Black Ice in 2008.)

Marcus Mumford started out as a drummer for the wispy London singer-songwriter Laura Marling, and he seems to concoct all his grand old-timey fantasias completely around rhythm; he almost never bends the beat to fit the affectations. On the rare occasions when the band does employ a full drum-kit, they tend to lose their way, and you get something like the risible fake-epic murder ballad “Dust Bowl Dance,” almost certainly the shittiest thing they’ve ever recorded. (“Lover Of The Light,” from the band’s 2012 sophomore smash Babel, does the whole-drum-set thing more successfully, but it still feels more bloated than the rest of the album.) But most of the time, even when the band layers on all sorts of orchestral bombast or slows down enough that they don’t need the drum, they keep that elemental thud at the center of things. All four members’ intricate musicianship is one of the band’s prime selling points, but that stark level of focus is what keeps them from spiraling off into jam-band noodling or shrinking down into twee Etsy-folk curiosity. Mumford may be marketed and consumed as an alternative to four-on-the-floor Day-Glo EDM glitz, but that rhythmic focus gives them a secret connection to house music’s heartbeat the same way that Rudd gave AC/DC their connection to disco. It’s what turns their old-timey rambles into anthems.

In an excellent Stereogum piece a few months ago, Chris DeVille traced the cultural genealogy of Mumford and all the blowing-up post-Mumford bands out there, showing how much they owe to the twin pillars of the Avett Brothers and the Decemberists. The Decemberists have always done a few things well, but they’ve also always bugged the shit out of me. And here we have a band that’s found massive commercial success by burning off all of the Decemberists’ handcrafted-Broadway excesses, piling on the bombast, giving it a beat, and making a couple of other key adjustments. Instead of Colin Meloy’s reedy dweeb-whine, they’ve got a singer with an absolute cannon of a barrel-chested bleat. And though Mumford & Sons indulge in their own obnoxious literary-reference games, they never bash you over the head with erudite whimsey the way the Decemberists do. They’ve effectively taken apart the Decemberists’ entire steez and rebuilt it into something with a simple, direct appeal. I have to respect it.

Of course, I can understand the general indie-rock annoyance of Mumford & Sons; they do plenty of annoying shit. They dress like assholes. They write vague and portentous lyrics that hold up to absolutely no scrutiny. This may be strawmanning, but their popularity seems to bespeak a deeply problematic white-people longing for a Depression-era simplicity that probably never existed. When he drops an f-bomb on the chorus of “Little Lion Man,” Marcus Mumford sounds a little too proud of himself, the same way Thom Yorke once sounded too proud of his own f-bomb on “Creep.” And it’s not really his fault, but Marcus’s marriage to Carey Mulligan is enough to piss off anyone who’s seen Drive a couple of times. (Would Marcus bust somebody’s head to the white meat for Carey? Huh? Would he? Then he doesn’t deserve her!) But as Mumford & Sons prepare to dominate this weekend’s Grammys and headline an assload of festivals this summer, it’s worth noting that the fundamentals of their big-tent uplift are strong.

Their style may be limited and reductive and willfully naive, but they play the hell out of it. Virtually every one of their tracks has a grand, dramatic, clothes-rending, chest-beating climax; it’s their equivalent of the Skrillex bass-drop. But when you let those climaxes do their work on you, they can be massively effective and satisfying things. And when a band hits that same sweet spot again and again, maybe it’s time to stop dismissing them.

Comments (341)
  1. FUCK. THAT.

  2. FUCK. THIS.

  3. FUCK. EVERYTHING.

  4. So polarizing!

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    • You honour, my client is clearly insane…

      • I object, your honor! While Wavves and Girls have great songs, they are also clearly dorky. Ergo, honlad’s client, the human “Phil,” is not insane. At the least, his insanity does not follow from the above information.

        Unless, your honor, seeing Mumford & Sons in concert is grounds for insanity. But I object even to this notion. While their albums may be boring, their live performance is not too shitty.

        In conclusion, your honor, gentlewomen of the stereo, I cannot Phil off with this plea for insanity. His comment was clearly meant to be douche-tastic, he was fully aware of its douche-tastic-ness, and he ought to be held accountable. Ladies and gents of the stereo, I believe this Phil ought be sentenced to no less than 20 downvotes for his sins against Girls.

        Opossum out.

    • wavves, possibly; girls, no. and i don’t even really like girls.

      …the band, dammit!

  6. Mumford Bros are pure shit.

  7. Trending indie publication strategy: show your enlightened, post-critical appreciation for the world by writing think pieces praising the most massively popular bullshit imaginable. Sub-strategy: set up straw man that said popular bullshit is taking a Nickleback-like drubbing everywhere.

    • Uh, look around you, son.

      • If you want a couple of concrete critical examples, there’s Stephen Deusner’s Pitchfork takedown of Sigh No More and Steven Hyden’s Grantland piece about learning not to hate the band so much. Also, this is an imperfect metric, but Babel finished at #111 on Pazz & Jop, which is crazy low for an album that’s both rootsy and popular. (Back in the day, half the stuff that did well on P&J was both rootsy and popular.)

      • My point is that for most of us, Mumford are an irrelevancy. They aren’t constantly invoked in conversations as “what’s wrong with pop.” They aren’t a punchline. They’re just stupid bullshit that plays the mainstage while most of us are in the tents at festivals. But If you put up a neon sign that says “people who hate Mumford, please congregate here,” don’t be surprised if people show up.

        My point is that it is ridiculous that the indie press has taken to writing about stuff like Mumford, and Beyonce, and say, what Grimes thinks of them. We’re aware mass culture exists, because, you know, it’s mass culture. No one needs to defend it.

        • Blinkered, disdainful ignorance of mass culture is probably my least favorite thing about indie culture.

          • That said, you can’t as a music writer run pieces praising my bloody valentine and Sleater-Kinney and then pull these kinds of shananigans. You’re committing the same sin as Mumford and Sons; you want indie credibility, and you want to appeal to the masses. You can’t have it both ways, and if you try to do that, you’re engaging inhypocrisy. I am a pop-culture sponge, and I enjoy some junk sometimes. The difference is that I am telling you it is junk and not defending it in any way. You are trying to polish a turd in order to play both sides of the field. Choose a side and stick to it: art of commerce.

          • I also agree with that.

          • “art or” I swear, I am the worst typist ever…

          • great point, tom. michael, here’s the thing, what if the “other side” like, isn’t junk? and an insightful music critic is able to write a well argued opinion piece on why it isn’t junk? i’m just saying, you’re taking a pretty bold approach just saying everyone is wrong if they don’t consider certain things as junk. this kind of reminds me of bob dylan going electric a little bit. and i mean, i think the opposing was pretty off in that case. for what it’s worth, i think it kind of is junk, but am totally open to thoughtful discussion about it without yelling FUCK

          • My blinkered, disdainful ignorance of mass culture is how I keep sane. Well, music-wise, at least. I watch TMZ and shit.

          • *Read: directly above my “I also agree with that” comment.

            Ahh hell, I don’t know why I’m trying to explain myself. Screw it

          • I agree with Tom Breihan.

            The End.

          • Michael, I don’t think there’s any interest here in either indie cred or appeal to the masses. As a music critic (or for me just as a listener), the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is whether or not you enjoy the music. I mean, where does a thing like credibility factor in to whether or not you like the music you listen to? Now I don’t really like Mumford & Sons, but if Tom wants to write about why he does enjoy their music and that we should re-evaluate it, that’s fine. It’s not playing both sides of the field because there isn’t any war going on in the place.

          • You’re missing my point to some extent. I am simply saying that, for the most part, everyone in “indie culture” (for lack of a better term) are familiar with Mumford and the Mumford clones. It’s totally ubiquitous, no matter how far gone any of us may be in our own little pockets of indiedom. I’m just arguing that many of us have heard Mumford, said “yeah, no thanks,” and have moved the fuck on. This isn’t 2003. Indie culture isn’t missing out on great pop singles anymore. Just as importantly, mass culture isn’t missing out on much of our good shit these days, either.

            My objection with your piece is that it makes martyrs out of a band that most of us neither care about nor particularly hate (and who, by the way, are conquering the world anyway). I also think you are assuming that the band’s critics are playing an us v. them game that doesn’t exist any more. I’m all for pop music and mass culture when they succeed. But the best arguments you give for Mumford seems to be a) they are popular, and therefore people should perhaps get over themselves and enjoy their formulaic 4/4 songs that end in big climaxes, and b) Zep and AC/DC were once slagged by the critics, too, even though we think they’re awesome now. That’s not an argument, it’s a provocation. And a lot of indie-centric news and criticism I am reading these days falls along these lines: the new hippest thing is to obsess over and scribble about the most universally popular music imaginable.

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          • Michael Hanna,
            What you are saying makes sense as far as integrity in music etc. What I have hard time with is the idea that we can’t enjoy a bit of “mainstream drivel” now and again. To me, Tom is basically saying “These guys are pretty lame, it’s true…but I can kinda dig ‘em. Here’s why.” In essence, he’s basically making a point for a guilty pleasure and maybe trying to justify why he (and whoever else) shouldn’t have to feel so guilty about it. Maybe I’m off base assuming that. But I just don’t see why there needs to be this wall between the indie world and mainstream pop world these days.

          • As I read back, I guess you did kind of go into “calling it what it is.” I guess we just read the article differently. I don’t think Tom is trying to convince anyone they’re “good” necessarily. He’s just trying to make a point for why they aren’t as “bad” as indie folks think.

          • Michael Hanna: I mostly agree with you. Let’s wave our alternative flags in mock enthusiasm.

          • put a shirt on!

        • I kinda agree with what you are saying here, especially “Mumford are an irrelevancy. They aren’t constantly invoked in conversations as “what’s wrong with pop.” They aren’t a punchline.”
          I don’t “hate” the band, but I just don’t care about them either way. I recognize many like them, and I see many also hate them because so many like them. But, I for one, have never had any interest in them whatsoever. I feel like I’ve heard enough with what I heard on the radio. No need for further exploration.

          • i think this thread confirms that mumford is not an irrelevancy. and i’d say that within the stereogum sphere of music, they aren’t the least bit irrelevant, considering there have been multiple articles being written about their authenticity. maybe i’m missing what you’re saying. this article actually seems most relevant, given there was a stereogum article written just months ago about this type of music. i dunno, i’m also pretty tired

          • I suppose I’m mostly agreeing with the idea that they’re harmless. I suppose they are relevant inasmuch as we’re all talking about them to great deal and they happen to be hugely popular, but, as far as my opinion of their music goes, they’re take or leave. They have nothing new to offer me, but they aren’t so terrible that I’m gonna waste time tearing them down. Perhaps it’s just in my sphere that they are truly irrelevant.

          • I’m also very tired…as you can see by my scatterbrained posting in this particular response thread.

        • My above “I also agree with that” was in reference to the highly upvoted “Blinkered, disdainful ignorance of mass culture is probably my least favorite thing about indie culture.” comment. Not the comment directly above it, to which I disagree with.

          I find myself wondering why that got downvoted…

    • wtf is post-critical?

      • It’s a genre of music criticism that has its roots in suburban regions surrounding New York City (Pennsylvania, New Jersey) and is heavily influenced by reviews written by Ian Cohen, Tom Breihan and Brandon Stosuy back in the late-Aughties.

      • The dawn of the internet somewhat destroyed the notion of the superior opinion of the critic since anyone could suddenly have a printed opinion that everyone could read. In this sense, everyone and no one was suddenly a critic. That is what the term means.

        • ahh i see. so essentially, it’s bullshit

        • Except some of us are good enough to make a living doing it.

          • I think you mean “lucky enough.” I know you’re Mr. “I write professionally on a ton of Internet publications, have a massive portfolio, 4,000+ Twitter followers” etc. etc. and all, but knowing your back story and how you started out, you actually were just a case of someone who got in at the right time, in the right place and came across the right people.

            But please, don’t kid yourself, man — There’s a ton of self-made Internet critics writing great things about music for absolutely nothing just because, and their words are no less worthy of the ones that you write or the ones people at all the other big music sites right. Plus, it’s all just this big NYC-Chicago-and-LA-based Illuminati of an inner circle filling the by-line openings anyway.

            I don’t mean to sound callous, but it’s true. Anyone could have been Ryan Seacrest. Anyone could have been Tom Breihan.

          • Michael_,
            I see what you’re saying there. But you are saying it by following and commenting on the site Tom writes for. So…he wins I think.

          • I already wrote my “In Defense of Tom” comment below, though, earlier so I think I’m still being pretty pro-Breihan either way.

            It’s kind of like a parent who has a child who does really well in something like basketball, and then the parent starts noticing the kid is letting it go to his or her head, so the parent takes the kid aside and tells him or her that he / she’s not that special.

          • if by ‘winning’ you mean writing an article on stereogum in defense of Mumford & Sons, then ..um…yeah, you win…i agree with Michael

          • I didn’t mean anything by it really. Just mentioning we’re all putting money on his table by commenting and following it. Whether we like his articles or not. I . In fact, I agree with what Michael_ said. Just thought it was funny.

          • Yeah, and I didn’t mean to say all the above to sound like a jerk to Tom, but unless I misread his wording, I translated his statement in an arrogant way when I would think any music journalist who gets paid this day in age would feel very fortunate to do what they do considering the state of things.

            He very well could actually just be an arrogant sunnovabitch that drops his greatest hit by-line at parties in attempt to get some side action (of the non-freelance variety if you get my drift) from impressionable wannabe NYU creative writing undergrads. I don’t know. I don’t know the guy. I just have his words to judge him by, and the above comment falls under the umbrella of overconfident elitism.

          • OK anyone could be Tom but RYAN SEACREST IS A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH ONE IN A MILLION

          • A tiny bit of humility would be much more becoming, Tom.

          • Actually, it’s worse than unbecoming. It’s the straw that broke this page’s back.

            The “controversy” of defending the immensely popular – and the ensuing flood of comments – is probably the exact reason someone like Tom makes a living out of this. It gathers a lot of clicks. I’m not really surprised that Tom proceeds to basically tell us that we all have a stick up our butt for not enjoying M&S. It’s to be expected, it’s like the Miranda Lambert AotW and the Defense of Skrillex all over again.

            But to read that this is what counts as a professionally successful webpage on Stereogum, and that none of us readers are good enough to come up with such a clever angle, well, that makes me want to stick to amateur music writers. I’ll go and remove Stereogum from my RSS feed now. I’ll see you when I see you.

          • My problem with “good enough to make a living doing it” as an indicator of value is this: Remember Idolator? There was a time when Maura Johnston was good enough to make a living on that site (and she really was/is a great music critic!). Now? According to Buzz Media, Robbie Daw and Becky Bain are deemed “good enough to make a living doing it,” which is bullshit because they obviously suck at writing about music. They could probably become better writers if they tried, but right now they appear content to churn out whatever trivial bullshit Buzz Media requires of them. You’re an infinitely better writer than those two, Tom, and I’m not really complaining about your writing or even this article itself. I just disagree with your comment here.

    • (This isn’t a reply to anyone in particular, but to a pervasive attitude)

      I wish we could take “trolling for pageviews” out of the equation when analyzing or whatever these sorts of articles. It’s always assumed that a publication is just trying to get hits on their site when they publish something so “controversial” as an endorsement of a popularly hated (amongst that site’s readership, at least) band (or film or book or whathaveyou). I’m not so jaded (yet) to think that stereogum is doing this as a way to get angry-internet-user hits; I think they’re legitimately raising good points. (But I also defend their lists so fuck me.)

      All of this “oh, indie culture and mass culture can’t mix” bullshit is just that: bullshit. The way that those in the indie sphere tend to dismiss aspects of culture with which they disagree is just as infuriating and nearsighted as those fans of top-40 radio who shit on anything that sounds remotely odd. And, like, I know, we have to defend the bastions of what makes indie culture indie culture but COME ON, that’s fucking stupid anyway, “indie culture” is merging (seamlessly, I might add) with mass culture, a little more each day, and it’s ridiculous to shit on a publication for writing a thoughtful article about what make something critically acceptable, etc. Some in the indie circle have eaten so much of their own bullshit that it’s coming out of their ears.

      For the record, I think M&S is pretty boring, and I’m not a fan of the nu-folk movement or whatever we’re calling it. And if you have issues with the mass production of culture and all of that stuff, great, I agree with some of that (corporate angles, everything-must-be-a-blockbuster, dumbing down, etc.) But I’m all for these sorts of articles that at least attempt to analyze what makes cultural popularity tick.

      • YES. It’s actually news to me that there are a lot of people who still see a rigid dichotomy between indie and mass culture….

      • well said . to me, the whole “indie culture vs. mass culture” ideal necessarily has to be premised on a world where, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Hanna, we find ourselves “buried in an inescapable avalanche of prepackaged mainstream music.” and in my own experience, modern technology has killed that world. hell, in the past 3 days i’ve had more my bloody valentine shoved in my face than any top-40 act of the past 5 years. and why’s that? because – and i suspect this applies to every one of you – the internet and ipods has replaced tv and the radio. i pick what i read, i pick what i listen to. nothing is shoved in my face anymore without me going there first. and in any event, “indie music” seems to be just as well-liked by today’s general populace as mainstream music is. so it’s all just music. of course, some of it is shit, some of it is good. you decide what you like.

        • I’d like to repost the Gentleman Clapper in response to you as well, Ben. But in order to avoid redundancy, just see above.

        • Well said. I’d also like to add that even things that are “mainstream culture” nowadays are soooooo much better than “mainstream culture” from 10-15 years ago and I think the phenomenon you explained above has everything to do with it. I’m not saying they’re my favorite, but how much better are Beyonce and Lady Gaga than Brintey Spears and N’Sync? How much better is present day Justin Timberlake or Beyonce that late 90s/early aughties N’Sync or Destiny’s Child? (I consider late 90s/early aughties to be the worst time period ever for popular music, BTW) In the internet age major acts don’t have to dumb themselves down to the lowest common denominator (as much) because even something a little quirkier will still get a lot of attention. Mumford may not be the best band ever, but they’re a hell of a lot better than Hootie and the Blowfish.

        • This is pretty much spot-on, Ben.

        • Ben, I think that’s only partially true. I agree that “prepackaged mainstream music” is not as pervasive anymore. When it was pervasive, everyone who identified with indie music had to grasp at and claim everything that was indie, whether it was great or not. Now that mainstream music is no longer a relevant distinction, the stratification of great indie vs. not-so-great indie has bubbled to surface a lot more. In effect, we’ve won the battle against mainstream culture, so we now have the luxury of being nit-picky about our indie. A band that indie culture would almost unanimously praise in 2003 (I.E. The Decemberists) would attract a lot more naysayers in 2013.

          However, I’m not arguing that Mumford & Sons would have been more critically accepted 10 years ago. I think in every age of music culture, artists fall into one or both of the categories you talk about: indie and mass culture. These categories will always exist to some degree, and they have only a small correlation to the quality or craftsmanship of the music. Plenty of mass music is of a high quality, and plenty of indie music is of a poor quality. I don’t think any conscientious music lover would argue Mumford & Sons is bad on the grounds that it has mass popularity. On the same note, I don’t think any conscientious music lover should argue that it’s good simply because it’s massively popular. Tom’s article isn’t doing that. He’s merely saying, “Hey, this band is massively popular; we should at least give them a second look and see if there’s a good reason why they are.”

          We live in an era of music consumption that is highly individualistic. Hence your conclusion: “you decide what you like.” This individualism is a modern idea, and it has its pros and cons. We can’t listen to, much less judge, music in a vacuum. That’s why we come to an online community to see what others think about music. In some cases, we find that an artist garners a ton of praise, and the people who don’t enjoy that music are at least willing to concede that, while they don’t enjoy it, they know it’s quality music. Thus, their judgment falls under the realm of taste. You’ll hear people say something like “I’m not really into R&B, but I can see why people really like Frank Ocean.” That’s usually a sign that the artist in question is good. In other cases, an artist will be much more polarizing, with some people absolutely hating the artist and trying to argue against them with objective criteria. I do believe in objective criteria, and I do believe that Mumford & Suns fall short of those criteria almost across the board. Tom didn’t dare to compare Mumford & Sons with Led Zeppelin; he did, however, compare them to Skrillex. My guess is that even he knows it’s because there’s a fundamental, objective difference in quality that tends to get pretty well sorted out in retrospect.

          My point is this. We can say to one another, “you decide what you like.” But as conscientious consumers of music in a community of other consumers, don’t we have a responsibility to steer our neighbors clear of bad music when we can? Not with superiority, smugness, or aggression, granted, but at least with conviction.

          • well, i definitely agree with all of that. and on that note, when i say “you decide what you like,” you’re right – it isn’t quite that simple. i still go to my usual websites and check bands out based on the recommendations of either those sites and their commenting communities, and i also check out a lot of stuff just from hearing about it from my friends. but, all that said, popular music just doesn’t seem to reach me anymore, without me finding it first. i finally heard “call me maybe” MONTHS after seeing it referenced all over the internet, and i couldn’t name a single taylor swift song if you asked me to. i know these people exist, but… the music just doesn’t make it my way anymore.

            now, contrast that with the pop music of ten years ago. i still remember pretty much every note of songs like “baby one more time,” “bye bye bye,” and usher’s “yeah.” and i never intentionally listened to that stuff – it was just everywhere.

      • I’m for it if it feels like they’re coming at it from a positive, unbiased, creative point of view. This article doesn’t feel that way. It feel like a public bashing of M&S, followed by some lame attempt at why it’s OK for you to like them anyway.

        • I don’t see it as a public bashing so much as saying “Yes, I understand why some of you don’t like them, they do X, Y, and Z which are, let’s face it, dumb,” and I suppose there’s also the implied Creed comparison. But then there’s the Zeppelin/AC-DC comparisons for balance, if we’re going after implications–I don’t think Tom is saying M&S are like ANY of these bands, though. His note on Skrillex? That I can get behind, and that’s a really interesting angle.

          I guess I just read it more positively than you did, because it IS ultimately an endorsement of the band, at least a cautious one, and it does succeed (to me, anyway) in looking at M&S in a way different than the knee-jerk reaction common on these message boards. (Can I call this a message board? I guess so. Maybe?)

      • I agree 100% with the part about indie culture and mass culture being able to mix and even merging etc.

        That said, this article is almost certainly “trolling for pageviews”.

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  9. the problem with M&S is that they’re as plastic as any x-factor or idol winner but performing a supposedly authentic genre and pretending to be cool folk guys. not to mention the songs follow the same recipe and are totally bland. i HATE this band!!!!

  10. I wouldn’t categorize my dislike for Mumford & Sons as a reaction to their populist stronghold on the safe rock and pop radio, but rather just a general disinterest in their style of music. The same simple, predictable formula you write is their strength I absolutely think is turning off point. I very well remember checking out their music before “Little Lion Man” made them radio staples because during their first tour of the States, I was perplexed as to why Local Natives were opening for them and not the other way around, and I still just don’t get why anyone would want such a reductive form of the style when there is plenty of other interesting neo-folk to at least make you think beyond the hook.

    • In Defense of Tom, how this article might surprise anyone is beyond me. Tom is like the Gloria Allred of indie poptimist journalism, always going to bat for the polarizing and overtly-ridiculed. I read these pieces to see how Tom has been able to make verbose gold out of a pile of shit of a subject this time around, which he does from a written sense. Does it convince me? Not always, but he’s welcome to dust off a few of the more annoyingly lazy criticisms the focal point harbors.

      • That’s exactly what I enjoy about these kinds of pieces, and Tom’s role here in general. There is so much more to be gained from a piece defending something that is generally dismissed, than from writing another article hating on it.

        I can imagine it is really discouraging to put a lot of thought into something like this, and then receive 100 comments from people who ONLY read the title.

        • “There is so much more to be gained from a piece defending something that is generally dismissed, than from writing another article hating on it.”

          That’s only if the album/band is really worth defending – otherwise it’s just a rhetorical exercise. I feel so conflicted about pieces like this because there’s no denying that the music scene is over-saturated. We have a superabundance of music! Year end lists went from 10, to 20, to 50. P4k alone reviews 5 albums every day, half of which get 7.0+ There is more good new music than anyone can reasonably listen to — and even if there wasn’t, the back catalogues of bands you may have missed could sustain you for years. And thanks to the internet, it’s all available.

          At the end of the day, for most of us who are deeply invested in music, there just isn’t room for Mumford and Sons. So why is there room for it on a site like Stereogum? Is it really that important to appreciate a Mumford and Sons song when it comes on the supermarket speakers as we’re picking out produce or cereal? I don’t know.

    • As interesting as these bands may be, the masses clearly make their decision. Most people don’t care about thinking beyond the hook. The trick is to get people intstantaneously bobbing their heads and singing along to lyrics that also have a deeper meaning. That way you grab everyone, whether they care to dive into the complexity of the music or not.

      It’s sad to say, but these other more interesting bands haven’t accomplished that. Although, every now and then some bands do accomplish this balance of artistic integrity and commercial success, like radiohead or interpol. Still it should come to no suprise to anyone that the hooky bands have their moment of sunshine and commercial success. The way I see it, commercial success and artistic integrity are two seperate things, which can work together, but most of the time they don’t.

      • Yes, that’s to be deduced to anyone who understands how pop music is manufactured and works, whether it be deliberate or not on the artist’s part. My position was coming more from a perspective of one that I think many Stereogum-esque readers take for granted in that meditating the complexity of music comes easy to us and therefore we often forget that the other 90% of the world does not like to be challenged. We are our own sub-”popular” mass to some degree, I suppose…

        • true as that may be, the joy of listening to music doesn’t always have to boil down to some sort of equation. You know as well as I do that some bands you unexplicably like to listen to. Although this understanding of how pop music is manufactured can make you have more respect for an artist, it doesn’t explain exactly why you like it or why it gets stuck in your head. what about guilty pleasures? bands that don’t have 5/5 ranking that you just love to hear? Thats what Mumford and Sons is for a lot of people; maybe too many people. Still, thats what happens when you hit the Zeitgeist.

    • Here here.

  11. woozefa  |   Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 -3

    i keep waiting for you guys to say ‘april fool!’ or ‘lol, gotcha, here’s our real story today’ but instead you keep doing stuff like this.

    • Haven’t you figured out that Tom Breihan is basically Stereogum’s resident troll? When you need a piece intellectualizing Chief Keef, claiming that Master P is still relevant, or touting the value of the Dropkick Murphys…WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

  12. Traffic must be falling off. Has the MBV bubble burst so soon?

  13. Singing, playing guitar, and beating a drum with his foot – I just respect the coordination going on.

  14. God bless ya Breihan for trying but yeah still think they suck. And will that there’s a huge difference between Gaga and Adele and Mumford. Those b*tches can really sing. I mean just in terms of vocal range, quality, soulfulness etc. Mumford is just too affected.

  15. i remember mumford + sons when they were still called country bear jamboree.

    where’s mark e. smith when you need him?

  16. I’ll give them “The Cave”, but I refuse to like them for making the same song every time after that.

  17. you lost me at “separates them from infinitely shittier nu-folk peers like the Lumineers”.
    sure, the Lumineers owe a lot of their success to Mumford and Sons, and rightfully so. But saying the Lumineers are shittier (In my opinion, they are better) or nu-folk (when I hear nu- in front of a genre I instantly think of Limp Biskit. I rest my case) is just weak and wrong. If you are in defense of Mumford and Sons, you have no right to lump the Lumineers into such a degrading category.

    Also, as right as you are as to say Mumford owes their sound to Decemberists and Avett Bros., you totally just took the opportunity to shit on The Decemberists (who are obviously a better band) and to ignore the Avett Brothers (who are an even better band). The Avett Brothers, though they enjoy much success now and I’m not too crazy about their new sound, are the ancestors to Mumford and Sons and deserve so much more credit than they receive(d).

    Mumford and Sons are a boring band and have way too much production to qualify themselves as a folk band. I’m sure each of the members are qualified musicians (though the singer’s voice has always annoyed me), but the collective sound doesn’t do it for me, personally. One only has to look at the Newport Folk Festival (and the folk scene as a whole) to hear what real folk is.

  18. The problem with this band, and a lot of other bands that are coming out right now, isn’t the constant drumming of the foot or anything like that. It’s the fake emotion and wind trying to be caught in a time loooong ago when this kind of music was actually believable. It doesn’t fit anywhere…And to me, it just seems like it’s the same formula over and over to please the masses. When I hear people cover this band, I literally want to stab my eardrums because it’s bad music just worse. I understand where they’re trying to come from. But one thing I always want to ask bands when they ARE trying to catch the wind that left a looong time ago: Do YOU believe in what you’re singing about? Because unless you convince yourself, I will never be. And people who understand will know what I’m talking about. If you don’t believe it, why should I?

    • I’ll counter your point with a guy called Frank Fairfield. The dude plays old timey tunes and can sell the shit out of that Depression Era sentiment. Saw him open up for Horse Feathers and nobody in the audience could help but to latch onto his every word. Same thing with a Carolina Chocolate Drops show last summer, who not only play the old songs but give historical context many times to keep the songs relevant and relatable. I could give a bunch more examples, but it would just devolve into me making a “Bands I Like” list.

      I just can’t understand how people give M&S the time of day while the Punch Brothers exist.

  19. Is it alright if I’m just neutral towards them, is that cool?

    • Connor Hughes: the Aristotle of stereogummers.

    • Actually, I’m kind of neutral too. I know their lyrics are pretty dumb, and their songs are formulaic, but they don’t sound all that far removed from a lot of bands that critics accept and like. Plus the banjo playing IS kind of cool, right? At least I think so. That said, I don’t choose to listen to their music, and a lot of my friends seem to like them a little TOO much.

      • aristotle: the Aristotle of stereogummers

      • Haha I was kind of reference your golden mean principle that you should never act with extreme emotion but those are good reasons too

        • Well I haven’t checked this thread in a few days, but I now have a title…Aristotle of stereogummers…I’m gonna use that as my ace in the hole during arguments. “Oh you thought Mumford and Sons was alright? Well let me tell you, As the Aristotle of stereogummers….”

  20. Well, Tom Breihan, basically in this article you barely talked about what the music Mumford and Sons makes actually sounds like (except for saying they use a kick drum sometimes), made fun of the Decemberists too much (“reedy dweeb-whine???” pretty harsh), compared Mumford and Sons to Creed, and then told your readers to shut the fuck up and like a shitty band. I’m not sold.

  21. Mumford and Sons: The Dave Matthews Band of the 21st Century.

  22. I got as far as the picture before getting a dangerous urge to punch my laptop.

  23. This article is whacked from the start. You can’t paint a Zeppelin comp and then say they aren’t anything like the galaxy that Zeppelin is in. That is just stupid.

    I like them, but even I can see the shortcomings musically. Apart from the F bomb or two, they are about as safe as music gets, nothing wrong with that, but they shouldn’t be praised (or talked about) at this level. There are just too many talented bands, both indie and non-indie that play and write batter, more interesting stuff. Want proof? Well, it’s crazy to think that Phillip Phillips did Mumford & Sons better than they ever have, but he did.

    Again, I have no problem with M&S, certainly not in an elitest snob way, but as with a lot of bands that get this big, majority of their fans have no depth in musical appreciation. Should they be a successful band with a great loyal following – absolutely. Should they be this big. No way in hell.

  24. My problem with Mumford and Sons isn’t their music per se. I have a problem when band’s bastardize an established genre of music to the point that listeners feel no interest in discovering that genre deeper. For example, the world is jumping onto electronic music, but if your level of interest starts and stays with David Guetta or Avicii, you haven’t exposed yourself to the nuances of that genre. In the same way, Mumford (or the Lumineers for the matter) don’t encourage me as a listener to discover more folk. Whereas, when I first heard the Low Anthem for example, I got more excited about hearing more of that kind of music.

    As the biggest representatives of folk music, Mumford should feel a responsibility to educate their listeners in a more complex way about what folk can be. They haven’t yet.

    • I disagree. It’s not their responsibility, they can play whatever they want. And who’s to say they haven’t ignited an interest in more nuanced folk for some people? Not moving beyond Mumford and Sons is fine for the casual music listener, but I’m sure there are people who have moved a little deeps…especially if they use something like Spotify. Just using the “related artists” tab, I could jump from Mumford to Fleet Foxes to Iron and Wine. So the potential is right there, the effort these days I feel falls more on the listener.

      I don’t care one way or the other for this band, but I will tell you that it has produced some great moments when I meet a fan and ask if they have listened to Iron and Wine. I put that on and it’s like I just made their heads explode. So in that sense…thanks for making me look awesome, M+S.

  25. I think, by definition, absurdly popular bands don’t really need “In defense of” articles written about them. Then again, I have spent an inordinate amount of time defending the Black Eyed Peas, so maybe I’m being really hypocritical right now.

    • This article is not aimed at the high school girls that love M&S, it’s aimed at the indie-music fans that prefer bands that aren’t loved so much by high school girls.

  26. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  27. ” I can understand the general indie-rock annoyance of Mumford & Sons; they do plenty of annoying shit”
    = true

  28. Like em or not, these guys are smart. They saw that the formula on their first album brought them so much success and they literally duplicated it on the next one, Babel. It’s the same exact fucking album!! Yet, it’s exactly what mainstream fans want nowadays. I think they knew this, and so far, it’s working out perfectly fine for them. I mean, if it’s money and fame they’re after, why change this formula so soon? People are eating this shit up like you wouldn’t believe, so I’m sure they decided to ride this folk-pop high while it’s still strong. Good on them I say.

    • Why the downvotes? I’m honestly curious. I don’t understand why wanting to hold on to fame for as long as you can is a bad thing. Wouldn’t you? Because lord knows they won’t be around forever. It doesn’t mean you HAVE to like it. I’m just saying that I think they knew what they were doing, and if they’re fine with money and fame without musical exploration, then good on them I guess.

    • Took me a second to realize you were talking about Mumford & Sons and not Nickelback. My bad.

  29. Well written piece Tom. I’ve always argued that I’d rather have Mumford & Sons et. al playing on pop radio rather than Pitbull and other garbage like that. If “rock” (using quote because that’s such a broad term) is ever going to be popular it has to start this way. Someone who likes M&S might get into the Decembrists, then the Shins, then Wilco, etc. It’s kind of like a chain reaction almost, which is why I think pop has trended the opposite way too.

    Think about the first “rock” or “alternative” band you ever liked. It probably wasn’t Radiohead, The Strokes, Pavement, The Stone Roses, Dinosaur Jr., or anyone else along those lines (in terms of popularity/quality). Depending on when you were born, it was probably whatever “rock” band was among the most popular artists at the time. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, Nirvana, RHCP, or U2. This is not to say that these bands aren’t good (Zeppelin and Nirvana are obviously legends) but without them you probably would never have become interested in other bands that might not be quite so famous.

    So yeah, M&S do have a similar formula for a lot of their songs. And yes, their image/marketing can be annoying much of the time. But at the same time, they do use real instruments, write their own songs, sing without a vocoder, and still manage to make it big on TV and radio. I’d rather be a little annoyed by repetitiveness and M&S aura than have to put up with some of the other garbage out there.

    • Agreed. Why does everyone have to either love or hate Mumford? Sure, they aren’t pushing any boundaries and all their shit sounds the same, but it’s still better than a lot of crap that’s out there. I’ll put it this way: I’d never pay to go to one of their shows but if they were at a festival and there was nothing else I wanted to see, I’d go check them out and I’d probably enjoy it.

    • I kinda agree with what you say, BUT you give the masses too much credit, in the day and age of sheep like musical taste and behavior, I’d guess the majority of M&S converts would never spend the time with a album like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (which is lightyears better in every way btw). The chain reaction you speak of is nestled right next to the I’ll but the record if I like what I downloaded for free.

      Of course M&S is better than pop garbage like Pitbull and Kesha, unfortunately this article doesn’t really talk about that. it does however mention Zeppelin, which again, was stupid. I’m glad they made it, but I don’t put up with garbage out there, so I’m not sure who that lesson is for? Are you glad masses of spoonfed music fans, in need of their newest “hip” band since Dave Matthews or RHCP, have something, then great I guess. I’m just saying imo M&S require little attention and make music for people who give about as much.

      • Why can’t we have a defense of Ke$ha article??? Mumford and Sons are basically only hated by the indie type but they’re mostly loved or tolerated by the rest. Ke$ha on the other can is hated by all, and I would say unfairly so. Her latest album is a lot better than people think. Just sayin.

      • I’m glad you pointed out that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is lightyears better in every way. People need to start picking a side in the YHF vs. Babel debate.

  30. this Stereogum post brought to you by the Lefsetz Letter

  31. Tom…by far the best thing that the band ever did was “Dust Bowl Dance.” Pure Awesomeness.

    Babel, while loaded with good songs, is boring as an album b/c all they do is that damn climax thing over and over and over and over and over. It loses its meaning and feels empty. Not awesome.

    Opossums, however, are awesome as fuck.

  32. I admire your restraint in only using the phrase “old-timey” a few times in this piece… It usually seems to me like the only apt way to describe Mumford.

  33. Well worded, Tom. This is a fantastic article. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  34. …In the interview, Mark E. Smith complains about playing festival shows with bands comprised of “ass lickers.” Then, this: “We were playing a festival in Dublin the other week. There was this other group, like, warming up in the next sort of chalet, and they were terrible. I said, ‘Shut them cunts up!’ And they were still warming up, so I threw a bottle at them. The bands said, ‘That’s the Sons of Mumford’ or something. ‘They’re number five in charts!’ I just thought they were a load of retarded Irish folk singers.”

    ^ Timeless.

    But seriously y’all. These guys are great, yep. They’re so soulful and earnest it makes me weep like a little girl every time I listened to them. The singer can play a bass drum with his foot while strumming an acoustic guitar, tell me that’s not the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard of. It is the rawest music I have ever heard, fuck that Robert Johnson motherfucker. My friend is into old school folk music and he says these guys are really good, and he has never listened to a record released after 1973. If u dont liek Mford kSons u have got no soul and your n evil hipstor that dusnt understand emowshins in yyur musick. This album wil tutch every1′s heart and soul 4eva and we will al hold hans and sing.

    Gonna blast the fuck of ‘I Will Wait’ now. See ya later.

    • Copypaster, I seriously cannot figure you out. Thank you for being so fascinating. For real though, that’s not sarcasm. I’m working on a “Likes, Disklikes” page for you, and it’s ridiculous. And now I get to add Mumford to likes and Robert Johnson to dislikes.

  35. In Defense of Wooden Wand and Other Incredible Folk Music That Hasn’t Sold Five Million Copies (Because It Isn’t Generic That Way) and Also Doesn’t Get Coverage Even from This Site Where He Occasionally Writes Things

  36. My comment on their insane popularity is that it could be worse. They *are* a decent band, I enjoy a few of their songs (though I’ve grown pretty sick of them, which you can’t really blame the songs for), but that’s about it. Are there better bands? Of course. Are there better bands on the top 40? Not so much.

  37. Mark E Smith throwing bottles at Mumford and Sons was the only critical response necessary. I’m sorry you spent time writing this article.

  38. Those guys look way too old to be his sons.

  39. “This may be strawmanning, but their popularity seems to bespeak a deeply problematic white-people longing for a Depression-era simplicity that probably never existed.”

    I like this essay, and I’ve got mixed feelings about the band, but I absolutely hate this painting of folk as some white-man nostalgia thing. I don’t enjoy folk because I want to go back before civil rights. Is it wrong to enjoy certain sounds and instruments, or to appreciate nods to history and our culture?

    I saw this comment back when Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” came out, and I still hate it.

    • “This may be strawmanning, but their popularity seems to bespeak a deeply problematic white-people longing for a Depression-era simplicity that probably never existed.”

      To me, this is just the most insane and horrible sentence ever written.

    • Folk music, mountain music, work songs, sea shanties, etc. are so much older than that, and they have as much to do with documenting culture and celebrating great times as they do with lamenting the troubles in life. Making it a white/other colors issue is a musically and culturally ignorant stance.

  40. I remember driving home from a friend’s house when Mumford and Sons came on the “alternative” radio station I had on. This was the first time I had heard “Little Lion Man,” and I didn’t know what Mumford and Sons was, but I remember an almost sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I felt, at the time, that this was folk that was poised to make a huge splash in the “alternative” scene and I certainly recognized their craftsmanship. On the other hand, it did feel like it was formulated to pull my heartstrings in a certain way that made me uncomfortable. I guess the best songs, movies and literature make you feel things without the underpinnings becoming too visible. Mumford, to my ears, felt phony and I’m not sure I could overcome that feeling even with repeated listens. And I don’t mean to suggest that Mumford is phony; every musician who’s ever written a sad song wants other people to feel how sad it is, some of them are more successful than others. Mumford’s bombast machine might just be too well-oiled for me to ever enjoy it.

  41. They play their instruments. They play them well. Their songs are catchy. They’re great live. There is no relation between AC/DC and Mumford and Sons. Popularity does not make something bad. It’s OK to like them. It’s OK to not like them. This article was unnecessary.

  42. At the very least people should credit Mumford for popularizing a genre of music that wasn’t something we saw on the popular music front. I really don’t get why people are okay with Taylor Swift and Adele and what not but Mumford and Sons are awful garbage. Not to resort to this silly argument, but at least Mumford and the boys write their own songs, unlike Swift. And some of Adele’s writhing on the ground emotion seems a little overdone to me, but you rarely hear anyone complain about that.

    I guess I just don’t get it, kind of like how I don’t get the massive hate for Kings of Leon.

    • i loved the first few KOL records. but the newest one sucked so bad and you couldn’t fucking escape it.

      • Without even knowing the title, I dug “sex on fire” quite a bit until maybe the sixth listen or so when I realized the chorus went “your sex is on fire.” Which immediately struck me as the absolute most trite, vapid, pathetic frat boy horse shit of a lyric. I’ve had bloody diarrhea more poignant than that. Even Billy Ray Cyrus called and asked if these kids were fucking serious with that.

      • I just want to use this forum to emphasize that I strongly vehemently HATE Kings of Leon. Thank you for the opportunity. I’d rather be trapped in an elevator with Yoko Ono, Weird Al Yankovic, Andrew Dice Clay and the aforementioned Mumford and Sons then Kings of Leon. Mumford and Sons are bland drivel in my opinion, but KOL are cock rock posturing cry baby archetypical ego driven “rock stars” that make every band on the planet, good or bad, just a bit better simply because they even exist. Thank you.

    • Taylor Swift writes her own songs. Sometimes in collaboration with others (mostly on the last record), but she does write her own songs. She also plays instruments (plural). Adele, eh, I don’t know. I kind of agree with you, but I think that’s really her. Not trying to sway your opinion of either of them, jus’ sayin’. Like I already said, something becoming popular is not bad (intrinsically). But when it does, it’s OK to like it, or not like it, without making a major issue out of the process. There’s far too much discussion generated about bands for no other reason than people have started liking them. That’s kind of why they DO what they DO.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I like Adele a lot and I can dig Taylor Swift if the moment is right, but I just don’t get why Mumford & Sons is “phony” and other popular bands aren’t. The same argument gets thrown at bands like Foster the People. Maybe its because they’re associated with indie music a lot moreso than a Taylor Swift so they’re critiqued more sharply?

        • I agree with you and I don’t know why, either. It’s very confusing to me. It would seem that they should be welcomed with open arms. The point I’ve been trying to make with my comments on this article is that it seems to be the age old argument that popular is bad, something I find completely ridiculous on every level.

      • yeah, i was gonna say, i thought that was the whole indie publication appeal of taylor swift. that she writes her own stuff.

    • I’ll tell you why their is so much massive hate towards this band and the Kings Of Leon. Because their songs suck. I personally don’t care if they write their own songs, I don’t care if they play “real instruments”, or don’t use autotune. I only care about what the songs sound like. And to my ears, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber all have much better songs than both bands. Mumford and Sons are Creed and Nickelback status as far as I’m concerned.

      I’m with stereogum on Beyonce, Crazy in Love is brilliant, and Love On Top is fantastic as well, Taylor Swift is ok but she’s not nearly as good as some people have tried to make her out to be. But Mumford and Sons is where I get off the train. I’ve never heard even one good melody come from these guys, let alone a good song.

      • Wait a minute, you’re telling me Mumford and Sons don’t have a SINGLE good melody? I totally get why people don’t like them, but lack of melody is one thing I’ve never heard about them.

      • so you’re seriously telling me that you would rather sit around listening to bieber’s “baby” than “use somebody” or “sex on fire.” seriously.

        • Melody is generally all I’m concerned with. Its why I like say Ariel Pink, but don’t like Frank Ocean. So yes. I’m saying they don’t have one good melody that I’ve heard at least.

          Baby no, But I would listen to Biebers As Long As You Love Me over both of those songs. The only Kings of Leon song I’ve ever heard that was any good is Fans, but its still not as good as Biebers- As Long as You Love me, Beyonce’s- Love On Top, Katy Perry’s- California Girls, or Taylor Swifts Our Song.

          Also, this article shouldn’t be that surprising to anyone. Tom simply has bad taste in music. He wrote a 3 page article about how terrible Animal Collective was years ago. I bet this is genuine and not just for controversy. He really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

      • Anyone who claims that Katy Perry and Justin Bieber are better than Kings of Leon has probably never listened to anything but their radio hits.
        Go listen to Youth and Young Manhood or Aha-Shake Heartbreak and tell me that they aren’t a great band.

      • dear heavens…Beyonce. Off topic, But I simply MUST say that to call “Crazy in Love” a water-brushed masterstroke of musical millennial genius is madness. I don’t know who she paid off or sold her soul to to play The Emperor’s New Clothes with her predictable fusion of every current pop trick and trend in the past 10 years, but ah. Sorry. She’s no Amy Winehouse or even Adelle. Forgive me, but her arrogance and her music make me puke into my mouth.

    • I think its more about… “Mumford & Sons sounds like a cheap rip off of some of my favorite bands. How dare they! HATE!”

      The other pop groups you mention get a pass because they have an ironic, “this is so far from what I usually listen to I feel cool admitting I like it” appeal.

      The Indie World.

    • T-Swift does write her own songs?

      • Is that a question? I’m not sure if it’s a question or sarcasm.

        Taylor Swift (2006) 3 songs written by her alone, 12 written by her with other people, but mostly just Liz Rose. Swift wrote these songs from age 12-15.

        Fearless (2008) 12 songs written by her alone, 4 songs written by her with other people

        Speak Now (2010) 14 songs, all written by her

        Red (2012) 9 songs written by her, 7 song written by her with people she chose to work with, like Dan Wilson, Jacknife Lee, Max Martin and Shellback

        Written by also means music and lyrics.

        Now, I’m not saying that makes her GOOD. What I’m saying is, like her or hate her, the songs are HERS. The direction is HERS. The ideas and image are HERS. And they have been all along. That cannot be said for a lot of the other pop music that gets spoon fed to the masses.

        • That’s kind of misleading.

          Taylor Swifts first two singles were co written with Max Martin.

          Katy Perrys first two singles from her last album were co-written with Max Martin.

          Christina Aguilera’s first single from her last album was co-written with Max Martin.

          Kesha’s firs two singles from her last album Warrior were co-written with Max Martin.

          Avril Lavignes first two singles from her last album were co- written with Max Martin

          Britney Spears first two singles from her last album were written by Max Martin.

          I like Taylor Swift just fine, but Im not really sure how you can say that she is so much different than the rest of the pop star girls??

          • cale, nail on the head

          • No, Taylor Swift’s first two singles were not co-written by Max Martin? Where are you even getting that information? Max Martin had nothing to do with Taylor Swift until she asked HIM to work with HER on her last album. Read…

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_Swift_%28album%29

            And none of the rest of what you’ve posted has any relation to her. Pull up the writing credits for all those other albums and show me the majority of songs that were written by those artists ALONE. I’m not a big Taylor Swift fan, to be honest, but she IS different than the rest of the people you mentioned. Different by a long distance. All you have to do is LOOK at them to know that.

          • I get that she deserves some respect for songwriting, just as any of those other pop divas would. But in the end, her music just isn’t that interesting. Maybe if she wrote her own songs and they were amazing I’d care more.

          • “They aren’t that good, but hey, at least they write their own shit” doesn’t work for me much these days.

          • I’d rather hear good songs written by someone else than bad songs written by the artist. Ok I’ll stop now.

  43. To sum up the article…M&S aren’t as bad as the critics say, they just use a kick drum and that’s for the best, they’re not as annoying the Decemberists, but they’re still pretty annoying, and every song ends the same.

    I know the author contended “fuck all that. They’re good.”, but it sounds like he’s describing a band he finds to be rather shitty.

  44. Let’s hope old man Mumford doesn’t have any more sons.

  45. One more thing, if Mumford & Sons dress like assholes, then Lady Gaga dresses like a cunt. Trust your instincts, you know this to be true. Honestly, that was just a shitty thing to say in an attempt to get the Stereogum Hate Club to agree with you. It has nothing to do with their music.

  46. I just want to go on record that I hated Mumford & Sons long before they became popular

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