wed 24/07/2024

Album: Marcus Mumford - (Self-Titled) | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Marcus Mumford - (Self-Titled)

Album: Marcus Mumford - (Self-Titled)

The Mumford & Sons frontman finds catharsis in his solo debut

Raw, open and honest

I can still taste you and I hate it/That wasn’t a choice in the mind of a child and you knew it/You took the first slice of me and you ate it raw/Ripped at it with your teeth and your lips like a cannibal/You fucking animal.” 

The opening lines of “Cannibal” the first track on Self-Titled, the solo debut from Marcus Mumford – are the first indication this might not be the album you’ve been expecting. Even if you’re already aware of the childhood abuse the singer suffered, and which inspired this collection songs, prior knowledge does little to prepare you for the visceral punch those words pack.

With a particularly affecting sense of linear narrative, second track “Grace” deals with how Mumford told his mother about what he went through, how he let her in. In contrast to the sparse, open spaces of its predecessor, it bursts into life like Tom Petty gatecrashing a therapy session. It’s unexpectedly and defiantly upbeat, the sound of a weight being lifted.

It’s hard, though not impossible, to separate the songs from their context. Their peaks and valleys, the sonic topography of these tunes is, of course, tethered to their emotional dynamic, but that’s not to say they can’t stand on their own. “Better off High” manages to find the rousing singalong gear while documenting the self-medication of trauma, and “Better Angels” feels like a proper musical departure – layers of guitar bursting through a simple melody that The War on Drugs wouldn’t shy away from.

The album’s closing tracks, featuring Monica Martin, Phoebe Bridgers and Brandi Carlile respectively, provide another interesting departure, the impact of each singer on each song steering it away into new, often unexpectedly lovely, territory. In music, as in life, Mumford has let people in and allowed the process to change him.

Musically, Self-Titled is unlikely to win over any new fans, but Mumford’s not short of those. It may force a few naysayers to admit he’s got a decent set of pipes, but that’s not its raison d’être. Ultimately, it’s an album about redefining oneself in spite of life’s labels and, at a time when we’re surrounded on all sides by performative, shrieking grief, it feels genuine: raw, open and honest.


While we’re surrounded on all sides by performative, shrieking grief, this feels genuine: raw, open and honest


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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