Earlier this year it was announced that British folk rock band, Mumford & Sons, would be headlining at Leeds & Reading, one of the most popular rock, alternative and indie festivals in the UK.

My first thought at hearing this was, really? Nothing against the four piece, they just seemed like an unlikely choice. The boys had been on a hiatus since September 2013 and have only recently come back on the scene with their new single ‘Believe’.

Previous Leeds & Reading head-liners include artists such as Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Eminem, Foo Fighters, Kasabian, The Strokes and Guns ‘N’ Roses. Arguably all much bigger names than this years headline act.

That’s not to say Mumford & Sons are unpopular, quite the contrary. The group have masses of followers both in the UK and the US, which is saying something as breaking the US as an English band is not the easiest of things to do to say the least.

But will they really work as a headline band for a festival which draws in over 160,000 people each year between the two sites? That remains to be seen.

The boys will kick off the festival on Friday 28th August in Reading and will then play the next day in Leeds. Their third album, Wilder Mind, is set to be released in May and the lead single ‘Believe’ has received a generally positive response, ranking 4th on Billboard’s ‘Hot Rock Songs’ list for 28th March.

The album is being produced by James Ford who has previously worked with Arctic Monkeys and HAIM, whereas the first two albums, Sigh No More and Babel, were both produced by Markus Dravs.

2015 is proving to be a big year for the band, but between this album and their last it seems they decided to change their style a bit. In an interview with NME band member Ben Lovett explained:

“We felt a need for change…At some point you have to try different things, as we collectively felt like it was time to try other stuff.”

Formed in 2007, Mumford & Sons have always retained a rather unique style, something which is instantly recognisable as it stood out from the general music market.The 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards - MusiCares Person Of The Year Honoring Bruce Springsteen - Show

For six years the country band, influenced by the American string band Old Crow Medicine Show, used mainly acoustic guitars, banjos, a double bass and a piano as their core instruments and the music was played acoustically with the rhythm of alternative rock and folk music.

They also generally steered clear of using a full drum kit on their tracks, preferring the much more subtle sound of a kick drum.

But if ‘Believe’ is anything to go by, we’ll be hearing a lot less folk and banjo and a lot more electronics and drums as they move into a much ‘heavier’ sound.

It seems in their quest to try new things, they’ve stumbled into producing something which you could argue is just another mainstream alternative ‘Coldplay sounding’ track.

The song which was released on 9th March sounds nothing like their previous music. It’s all well and good bands wanting to spread their wings and try new things, but I find it always such a shame when a band, which had such a refreshingly different sound such as Mumford & Sons, go away and comeback with this generic sort of music which could easily be mistaken for another band.

My question is, are the four piece done with folk all together? Or will they go back to their roots? It could be this is just one of a few tracks on the new album like this and I for one hope it is, as I reckon there’s a lot of confused Mumford & Sons fans out their wondering where their country banjo music has disappeared to.

The group may be trying to appeal to a wider audience, possibly attempting to attract a larger crowd for their upcoming headline act at Leeds & Reading. All I know is I was a little disappointed when I heard ‘Believe’ for the first time and contrary to songs such as Little Lion Man and I Will Wait, it doesn’t really stick in my mind for that long.

It’s not even necessarily that I don’t like the song, it’s just nothing that stands out. Nothing different and certainly nothing new.

The full album will be released on the 4th May, along with the upcoming festival, it could be a career making move for them. I just hope the band don’t lose sight of what made them who they were in the first place like so many artists before them have.

Photo Credit: Andrea Sartorati

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