On 2015’s Wilder Mind Mumford & Sons went electric, ditching the banjos and acoustic guitars for a more plugged-in sound. Those instruments return on their fourth album, but a whole lot more has been added to the palette. Delta is their boldest collection to date, marrying their intimate introspection and massive hooks with restless musical curiosity. “I remember when we first played Wilder Mind to our booking agent in the States,” Marcus Mumford told Beats 1 host Zane Lowe. “His first comment was, ‘Now you guys can do whatever you want. You’re not the banjo band anymore.’ It was probably a bit reactionary from us: ‘Let’s do it without these acoustic instruments in our hands.’ And I guess, on this record, it felt like, ‘Look, let’s just not restrict ourselves at all. Let’s use whatever powers we have, whatever kind of instrumentation we have, and let’s try and do the best we can with it.’” Key to reaching new peaks, they decided, was trying to encompass each member’s diverse musical tastes into their songs. So while the quartet’s nu-folk roots are still traceable in the harmonies and troubled soul of opener “42” and the insistent banjo riff on “Beloved,” there are also successful journeys into electronic pop and hip-hop beats (“Woman,” “Rose of Sharon”), alt-R&B (“Picture You”), and foreboding psych-rock (“Darkness Visible”). The centerpiece of their experimentation is “If I Say,” which swells from spartan beginnings to orchestral grandeur and fiery rock crescendo. “We like to explore the idea of epic,” keyboardist Ben Lovett, who wrote the track, told Lowe. “I was actually asleep in an apartment in New York and I dreamt this song. And then I went into my bathroom and recorded it on my voicemail at 3 a.m.. I sent it to everyone the next morning, and they were like, ‘Yeah, OK, that’s a song.’ Sometimes we do send stuff to each other and it’s just like crickets, y’know?” The aching “Wild Heart” recognizes that there can still be great beauty in simplicity, but Delta is Mumford & Sons at their most free-spirited. “I think we feel younger,” said Lovett. “I feel like this is us just getting into it. We spent the whole of this year [2018] just pouring ideas, and it was just such a fertile period. It’s partly why the album is called Delta—the most fertile ground of a river. I think that there will come a time for those quieter, more reflective moments; it’s just not what we’re about right now. We wanna push it on.”

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