Beneath the Wilder Drones

One of the features of summer is the endless articles proclaiming songs for their “Summer soundtrack”. Songs on these will undoubtedly be played over and over again on radios and at festivals, giving anyone who listens or attends no moments of peace or variety. Sadly, I’m about to buy into these concepts as I introduce an article where I talk about 3 albums yet to be released that Emma and I are both very excited about. All three have potential to be commercially successful and show evolution from the artists more recent work. This article feature a concept album, an album with a drastic change in genre and one which sounds like a polishing of an existing strong sound. So, without further ado, these are the albums we are most excited for.

Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind (released: 4th May)

Wilder-Mind

Track list:

  1. Tompkins Square Park
  2. Believe
  3. The Wolf
  4. Wilder Mind
  5. Just Smoke
  6. Monster
  7. Snake Eyes
  8. Broad-Shouldered Beasts
  9. Cold Arms
  10. Ditmas
  11. Only Love
  12. Hot Gates

Let’s start with the first to be released, M&S’s third album and first to seemingly not feature a banjo. Following a short break after 2012’s Babel, the band returned to the studio to experiment with a more rockier/electronic edge and the result is a cross somewhere between an upbeat Snow Patrol and a non-boring Coldplay. Believe was the first single released, and the reception was mixed to say the least. Critics praised the change of direction, enjoying the lack of banjo and increase of electronic sounds. However, the fan reaction was less positive. In truth, that’s no surprise. Fans hate it when you change, unless you are returning to where you were when they found you. They can’t accept that bands don’t want to be stuck making the same record over and over again, churning out singles that sound identical to the last and therefore not improving. So-called fans opinions on this song are to be taken lightly.

The Wolf was the next song to be released and is more upbeat than Believe. In truth, neither are polar opposites of the songs Mumford have released before. The Wolf takes what would have been a banjo in the past and replaced it with an electric guitar while Believe replaces the acoustic guitars with keyboards. I see how that could be classed as a band losing their soul, however I think Mumford have used synths and guitars in a way which retains their energy and heart. From the first two songs of this album, it sounds like Mumford & Sons have improved from an already strong position and will appeal to a new set of fans, which is not a bad thing. The fourth of May can’t come quickly enough.

Muse – Drones (released: 8th June)

MuseDronesCover

Track list:

  1. Dead Inside
  2. [Drill Sergeant]
  3. Psycho
  4. Mercy
  5. Reapers
  6. The Handler
  7. [JFK]
  8. Defector
  9. Revolt
  10. Aftermath
  11. The Globalist
  12. Drones

Of course Muse feature on this list. Anyone who knows me knew that was a given! Muse said that with this album, their 7th, they were returning to the instruments that made them popular, and would strip back to playing intimate gigs while progressing and learning from the more electronic based last two albums. They entered the studio to record with Robert Lange, the man behind ACDC’s Back in Black amongst others, and made many instagram teaser videos including an orchestra, Matt playing the guitar and the mixing of promotional single Psycho. We also learnt from these sessions that this is a concept album, following the story of a man being turned into a human drone by the government before fighting back.

Psycho dropped on the 12th March, along with a set of intimate tour dates for the week after. Psycho is much heavier than anything they’ve done since the early years of this century, and is far rockier than anything released on a studio album so far. It seemed that, for once, Muse had stuck to their promises. The song builds on a riff that Muse have been playing for years, adds some rather dodgy lyrics and a strange interlude with a shouting drill sergeant in a mix that is surprisingly catchy. It’s not a song for the radio mind, whereas first single Dead Inside is. Dead Inside takes what Madness, Undisclosed Desires and Follow Me started, blends in more guitars and produces one hell of a song. Drawing upon influences from Prince and U2, Dead Inside is a huge improvement on the 2nd Law’s output. However, the best song may be lying amongst the album tracks. They’ve played Reapers live to a great reception and Matt’s confirmed that The Globalist is Citizen Erased mark II, with an added orchestra. It seems to be a mix between CE and Butterflies and Hurricanes, all of which gets me very excited for this album.

Of Monsters and Men – Beneath the Skin (released: 9th June)

BTS

Track list:

  1. Crystals
  2. Human
  3. Hunger
  4. Wolves Without Teeth
  5. Empire
  6. Slow Life
  7. Organs
  8. Black Water
  9. Thousand Eyes
  10. I of the Storm
  11. We Sink

This is the second outing from the Icelandic band and it’s one we’ve been excited about for a long time. Their first album, My Head Is An Animal, is one of the few albums that we both own and were listening to a lot when we met. It’s difficult to explain the band if you haven’t heard them before, as their take on music is slightly different to a lot of stuff out there at the moment. It’s not quite folk; it’s not quite rock – so quite possibly the definition of alternative! Their music is very easy to listen to, being soothing and catchy at the same time. One word I’ve seen used to describe their sound is expansive, and that fits perfectly.

Every band needs to progress, OMAM are no different, and the first single from Beneath the Skin, Crystals, shows further expansion whilst retaining the qualities which made their first album so good. The combination of the male and female vocalists remains strong, as does the simple guitars and beating drums. How is it different? Well, for me it shows more comfort in the style of music they find themselves making and as a result it’s more powerful. Without realising it, I’ve just listened to it three times in a row. This album may be the longest one to wait for, however the signs are it will be worth it.

We are aware that Mumford, Muse and Of Monsters and Men aren’t everybody’s cups of teas but give a listen to the songs and make a judgement based upon those. All the songs here are very different from each other, and show just how strong the music industry is despite all the soul-less tripe produced by the proper chart artists. There may well be an album released that we like more than these three but as we have no way of knowing what that will be, at the moment these three are at the front of our minds. I predict we will listen to all multiple times and will continue listening even after the initial hype has faded. If you have liked what you’ve heard here then you should do the same.

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