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CD Review | FOLK-ROCK

Mumford & Sons, ‘Babel’

It’s no coincidence that Mumford & Sons’ breakout song was also one of the band’s most muscular. “Little Lion Man,” with its commanding chorus (“But it was not your fault but mine / And it was your heart on the line / I really [expletive] it up this time / Didn’t I, my dear?”), synthesized the English folk-rockers’ appeal: Poignancy goes down well with a shot of bombast. That song came from Mumford & Sons’ 2009 debut, “Sigh No More,” whose follow-up is that album on steroids. “Babel” is a record you think would sound terrific in an intimate club, but really it’s meant to be heard in a stadium. Small sentiments (“I will wait for you”) are blown wide open with the kind of gospel fervor reserved for tent revivals. The London quartet’s hallmarks — plucky banjo, hard-driving acoustic guitar — are in place, but the songs are bigger and bolder, right down to Marcus Mumford’s exuberant wails that now grind with more grit. “Lover of the Light” is U2 by way of the Avett Brothers — rustic and full throttle, which is shorthand for why the Mumfords are beloved in the first place. (Out Tuesday)

JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Not With Haste”

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