By Sarah Bauer
The inevitable trajectory of a geographic delta is toward the opening of a much larger body of water. Mumford & Sons makes it to the ocean with Delta (Gentlemen of the Road, Island Records), their fourth studio release. Orchestrally gigantic, swollen really, Delta trials electronic, R&B and quasi-experimental sensibilities, utilizing a talent buffet of almost a hundred musicians in recorded sessions with the band and producer Paul Epworth of The Church Studios in London. There are plenty of thundering climaxes and rousing one-liners to identify this as Mumford-made but like Wilder Mind (2013) before it, Delta doesn’t pander to the cozy folk-ish barn rattle that put the British quartet on the mainstream map with Sigh No More (2009) and Babel (2012). Delta is like grumpy, tangential Coldplay, which has its moments.
Marcus Mumford possesses one of those satisfyingly creaky voices that lets him get away with insipid lyrics on otherwise thoughtful and interesting songs like “Wild Heart” and “Darkness Inside”. The mixed bag does perplex though, with anthemic, country-rock choruses on “Forever” and digital do-dads on “Picture You”. “Beloved” and “Slip Away” have the stadium fireworks covered, while “The Wild” revels in the drama of its layered symphony. This is genre-dabbling at its most luxurious and there doesn’t appear to be any turning back to dusty old folk rock for Mumford & Sons.Delta, Island Records, Mumford & Sons, Record Review