Three years ago, I wrote one of my most popular posts of all time, a review/listening guide for Mumford and Sons’s first album, Sigh No More. I always thought I might do something similar for their second album, Babel, but I never got around to it–though I must say that I think it’s a great album. I disagree with those who considered it a sell-out album; the band was just getting better at writing tight, radio-playable folk-pop songs, a skill that should not be denigrated. Now that Mumford and Sons is/are about to release their third, stylistically very different album, I’m returning to them on my blog–but not to write about their music. This time, I want to mention a couple of things I appreciate about the way the band members present themselves physically, which, as I think we all know, can be nearly as important in our day as the music itself.
1. Have you seen Winston Marshall’s hair lately? It’s beautiful. I realized this as I watched him tossing it around during the band’s frenetically kinetic performance on SNL this past week. Sometimes long hair, on a man or a woman, can look lank and stringy, but not so on Winston. I love the fact that he’s just letting his rather thick hair go where it pleases instead of trying to tame it. That’s usually been my own personal hair styling method as well. I have a lot of respect for people (particularly for women) who just let their hair be awesome even if it doesn’t look put-together according to the current definition of what put-together hair looks like. You should not be surprised to know that my hair role model is Helena Bonham Carter.
2. While watching the same performance, I was confirmed in my long-held belief that Marcus Mumford is very attractive. He’s not like my number-one celebrity crush, but I like a lot of things about the way he looks (but please note, Marcus, that the small mustache is not one of them). I like how, speaking of hair, he has a little piece that insists on sticking up–it’s so Harry Potter. I also love that he’s not ashamed to contort his face in order to express emotion while singing. His face looks like it’s going to break, but that’s how he gets that gut-wrenching sound that’s part of what makes this band distinctive. Probably my favorite thing about Marcus, though, is that he doesn’t look like the heroin waif we typically picture when thinking of a rock ‘n’ roll front man. Now understand me, he isn’t fat. But he definitely has a soft belly. And his face isn’t chiseled or angular or gaunt by any means. And I would guess the only bicep toning he gets on a regular basis comes from playing the guitar like a maniac. You can really see this in the SNL performance, in which he’s just wearing a t-shirt (and trousers, too–geez, people), since tweed jackets and vests are no longer part of the Mumford and Sons uniform. I have a lot of respect for this very noticeable, if not flagrant, disregard for a long-established stereotype.
There’s entirely too much body hatred in our world today, and the music industry often hurts rather than helps. So it makes me very happy that the members of Mumford and Sons–none of whom exactly look like gods of rock–seem to be totally cool to just, as they put it in the last song on Babel, “be who [they] are.”
That’s a perspective I hadn’t considered. The very act of just being one’s self as a rock star instills a lot of hope in me that their lyrics are sincere too–something hugely important to me.
That’s important to me, too, Cliff. Based on the Mumford and Sons performances I’ve seen, I’d say that if they’re not sincere about what they’re singing, then they’re very good actors.