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Marcus Mumford goes on a journey of hope and strength with (self-titled)

"(self-titled)"

Release date: 16 September 2022
7/10
Marcus Mumford - (self-titled) cover
16 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Oliver Kuscher
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Marcus Mumford wastes no time setting the tone on his debut album.

Opener “Cannibal”, an account of the sexual abuse he experienced as a child, starts with the lines: “I can still taste you and I hate it / That wasn’t a choice in the mind of a child and you knew it / You took the first slice of me and you ate it raw”. A confession that startles and devastates in equal measure. There’s immediately a feeling that what will follow throughout (self-titled) won’t just be intensely personal but consist of material that’s far heavier than anything Mumford & Sons have ever released.

Mumford recalls hitting rock bottom on “Prior Warning”, “picking up the pieces” as hefty strings stab softly yet ominously. “Grace” tells of the moment Mumford reveals his sexual abuse to his mum, who had no idea until hearing “Cannibal”. He struggles with self-medication on “Better Off High”, its choruses exploding into cathartic releases, and on the uplifting “Better Angels” Mumford thanks “all the hands that pull[ed] me through” to see him into brighter days.

Elsewhere, there’s some collaborations of note. Clairo shows up on the rippling “Dangerous Game”, Phoebe Bridgers on the cinematic “Stonecatcher” – providing harmonies that are beautifully tender and whispy – and Brandi Carlile on album-closer “How” – a full-circle moment where Mumford addresses the monster of his childhood trauma and finds the strength to “forgive you now / Release you from all of the blame I know how”.

This certainly isn’t one for Mumford & Sons fans. There’s no big, foot-stomping, sing-along moments here; instead, the song arrangements are sumptuously layered, built on many little, delicate, moving parts, masterfully put together by producer Blake Mills. It adds deft nuance to the extremely personal journey that Marcus Mumford goes on throughout (self-titled), one of torment and courage, hope and strength.

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