Mumford & Sons' second album Babel will sell as much as 600,000 copies by the end of this week, according to Billboard's industry sources. If the British folk-pop band pull this off, they will top the first-week sales of Justin Bieber's Believe by a considerable margin. That record, which moved 374,000 copies in its first week on the charts according to Nielsen SoundScan, had been the first's biggest debut to date.
According to Billboard, Babel is selling exceptionally well in digital stores, and is likely to post the second-biggest first-week digital sales following Lady Gaga's Born This Way, which sold 662,000 downloads is its debut week last year thanks in large part to Amazon selling it for 99 cents for two days of that week.
So what gives? How did these dudes get so big?
The success of Babel is only surprising if you haven't been paying attention. Mumford & Sons' debut, Sigh No More, was a classic slow-burn hit, and gradually sold 2.5 million copies since it was released in 2010. While they do have some chart hits – their current single "I Will Wait" peaked at Number 23 on the Hot 100 in August – they have mainly built their audience through relentless touring and word-of-mouth.
In a lot of ways, they're like Adele – vaguely cool, highly respectable, and appealing to a wide range of people, from aging Boomers and Gen X-ers to Millennials and teens. People are still discovering the band, too, so If your mom hasn't asked you about Mumford & Sons yet, it's bound to happen soon.