The Truth About Music: Play It Loud

"What's hot, what's not, and whats next in pop music"

Mumford & Sons and the Danger of Being Taken Seriously

First, let me set the stage a bit. Since their debut album Sigh No More was released in the U.S. a little over a year ago, the British folk rockers Mumford & Sons have shot to superstardom. It’s easy to see why, as they follow behind such bands as The Decembrists and Beirut on the current of old timey instrumentation (and old timey fashion) coupled with impassioned and yearning vocals. The reason Mumford & Sons have managed to shoot past these bands to attain a greater degree of mainstream success is most likely due to the driving force inherent in their music. This is stadium folk rock.

You also have to respect these lads for maintaining artistic integrity. They financed their first album in order to maintain creative control. Plus they kept the word ‘fuck’ in the chorus for their debut single “Little Lion Man” despite pressure from industry professionals. And they seem to be handling their stardom well. They smile and have a good time with their songs, even when performing in a pressure situation like alongside Bob Dylan at the Grammys. But behind all of this, there is a murkiness of purpose. We see this murkiness quite clearly in the video for “The Cave.”

Now, I’ll just cut straight to the quick here: Why are they standing up on their scooters? Are they intentionally doing this for comedic effect, or are they trying to appear earnest? They have already shown in the video for “Little Lion Man” that they do a great job of singing lyrics with a proud, chest out and head held high forthrightness. So is this meant as self-mockery?

Well, no I don’t think it is. More likely, they rented some scooters and drove them around what looks to be an island paradise with a video unit in tow. Probably figured they would do some lip-synching for the video, and then one of the boys got the bright idea of standing up to sing the chorus. Give it an extra oomph of passion, y’know?

Thing is, no matter what you’re riding, be it bicycle, motorcycle or horse, you inevitably look goofy when you stand up off the seat. It’s just a fact of life. And if you’re going to look goofy in your music video, you should have a good reason for it.

Now, one could argue that the video as a whole has kind of a goofy tone, what with it starting with the members of the band giving their instruments to a quartet of brown skinned gentlemen with formal military attire rented from the costume shop, and taking them back at the end. “Thanks for holding these while we drove around your island standing up on our scooters gents. Cheerio.” Okay that is kind of funny.

So you see there’s murkiness here. I can’t quite separate what’s sincere from what is tongue in cheek. These guys are young and fresh to the game, and I like that they’re having fun and enjoying the fact that their future is limitless and trying to tweak their image a bit here and there to keep things interesting. Just clarify the intention is all I ask.

Add A Comment

2 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by Mike posted March 22, 2011 at 22:34

    I’m sorry, this is a pretty ridiculous article and I think you’re taking this far too seriously. A whole pointed article about a couple of random moments where someone is standing up? Some of the times you can clearly see one of them standing to look at something. Other moments could be that they are stretching or, um, just messing around. I expected the worst for this video after reading your article but you’re really off-base with the whole thing about the video itself. Glad you think your “cheerio” line joke is funny, this article just makes me not want to read anything else you write and I imagine conversations with you get pretty drawn out. I picture you fuming while writing this…”WHY IS THAT GUY STANDING FOR THREE SECONDS, ARRRGHHHHHHHHH!”

  • Comment by iamtomhamilton posted March 23, 2011 at 02:36

    Hi Mike.

    Thanks for reading my post. Sorry you won’t be reading any more of them.

    At the risk of starting a drawn out conversation, I’d like to clarify a few things. I like Mumford and Sons, and I think their success is deserved. But the video for this song is kind of ridiculous. Just listen to the lyrics, which talk about orphans and nooses among other things, and then tell me that this video fits the song. It doesn’t.

    I do find it interesting that you find my article ridiculous, yet at the same time taking things too seriously, which is essentially my qualm with the video itself. So if anything, my review at least matches the subject matter.

    As for picturing me fuming while writing this…you’re a weirdo, why are you picturing me writing things?