I'm a big Mumford & Sons fan. My family and I loved their first two albums, Banjoland and Holy Fuck We Love Our Banjos. We are die-hard M&S fans for life. We just can't get enough of Mike Mumford and the rest of the gang.
So you can imagine our shock when they announced their new album was called No Banjos This Time. When I told my mother she cried and called me a morbidly obese liar. When I told my dog he hung himself to death with his leash. When I told my dad he went back into the closet. Everyone was devastated, so I've spent the last three days pouring over every nook and cranny of this album trying to decide if it's worth listening. Hopefully I found an answer in time to repair my family. Here's a review of every one of the twelve tracks:
1. No Banjos This Time
The first song on this album is also the title track. It's a straightforward ditty complete with plenty of synth and fuzzy electric guitar. The chorus is the very catchy chant "Sorry / There are no banjos this time / there are no banjos this time / Sorry about that"
This is the first single, not my favorite song on the album but the first single rarely is. Apparently, according to interviews, this was the first song written for the new album which explains the chorus: "I don't even know if I believe / I don't even know if I believe / That I can write a song without a banjo"
Like I said, not my favorite song but it gets the job done setting the tone.
3. Fuck Our Banjos
The third track is where we really start to get into the meat of this thing. There is the classic Martin Mumford growl as he sings about how much he doesn't like banjos anymore. The trademark M&S stomp can be heard as they yell "Fuck our banjos! / Fuck our banjos! / We don't like banjos! / We're so over banjos!"
An instant classic. The only thing that honestly keeps this song from being in my top ten all-time Mumford & Sons songs is the fact that there is no banjo on the track.
4. We Play Other Instruments Too
This is the first real ballad on the disc. It starts out good and takes a weird turn halfway through where the lyrics just devolve into a list of instruments the collective members of the group are able to play.
5. Fuck Our Banjos (Reprise)
An odd choice to do a reprise so early in the tracklist, but they did promise that this record would alienate some fans. Especially odd is the decision to make this track 17 minutes long, with lyrics entirely comprised of the phrase "Fuck our banjos!"
6. Fuck Our Banjos (Reprise) (Reprise)
An even odder choice is to follow up the previous track with an additional 19 minutes of screaming the phrase "Fuck our banjos!" There isn't even music behind this track. It's now been 36 minutes since we've heard them say anything but "Fuck our banjos"
7. Snake Eyes
Clearly written after watching some sort of nature documentary or at least a ton of time spent reading Wikipedia, this song is just a melodic breakdown of the biological process that allows snakes to see.
8. Regrets (Interlude)
This is the real emotional turning point of the record. Whereas the first half of the disc was characterized by anger and lashing out, this piano-focused musical interlude features the members of the band all whispering the phrase "banjos" as Mortimer Mumford sings the word "regrets" over and over at the top of his lungs.
9. We Don't Miss Our Banjos
This right here is classic heartbreaking M&S if I ever heard it. It was about time for them to pull out a show-stopper and the boys don't disappoint! The longing, the pining, the heartache is all there. And it's all tied together with a lovely twist-ending when Myrtle Mumford leans into the microphone and whispers "We actually do miss our banjos."
This song just saved this album from being a C.
10. Banjoless Wanderer
This song is just a straight-up cover of the song "Hopeless Wanderer" from their previous album with every instance of the word "hopeless" changed to "banjoless" over and over and over. It really doesn't make much sense but I really like that song so I'm cool with it being included in such an experimental way. Also I'm not a musician but I'm pretty sure the guitar track was filtered through some sort of banjo-type effect in Pro Tools.
11. We're Sorry, Banjos (Banjos Come Home)
Another heartbreaking banger as Melvin Mumford sincerely apologizes to his banjo and the banjos owned by his bandmates. The song only gets more and more heart-wrenching at the end as he croons "BANJOS COME HOME / COME HOME BANJOS / WE MISS YOU BANJOS / PLEASE DON'T HATE US BANJOS / WE NEED YOU BANJOS / BANJOS DON'T DO THIS"
12. Hot Gates
An ode to metal gates that have been sitting out in the sun all day and burn your fingers when you try to open and close them. Kind of a weird end-point for this album, if we're going to be honest.
13. Where's My Banjo? Give Me Back My Fucking Banjo! (Hidden Track)
If you endure the 23 minutes of silence in the middle of the twelfth and final track of the album (labeled Hot Gates) you get to hear what appears to be lead singer Melanoma Mumford having a legitimate mental breakdown as someone secretly records him. "Where's my fucking banjo? Give it back to me now!" He screams.
"No Marcus you said you wanted me to hide it." says someone who I can only assume is his producer.
"I was lying! I need it! I need my banjo! Give it the fuck back!" Marzipan Mumford yells back.
"It's too late, man, I hid it and you made me promise you I wouldn't tell you where it was no matter how upset you got."
"Just shut the fuck up and give me my fucking banjo! Now! I will kill you! I will cut you with this knife! I will! I'll do it! Don't fuck with me! TELL ME WHERE MY BANJO IS!"
He begins sobbing and the rest of the 85-minute track is just Muggle Mumford weeping and crying out for his banjo.