David Frum

10.01.12

Mumford and Sons: The Pinterest of Folk Music

Matthew Schmitz bashes Mumford and Sons over at First Things. (Disclosure: I've listened to their new album A LOT during the past week.)

Mumford and Sons are a kind of musical Pinterest. They “collect” without really linking together a variety of quaint, beautiful, and touching things. A little gospel here, a little Chesterton there, a little waistcoat here. Becaue of their penchant for gathering any and every sartorial, lyrical, and instrumental oddment, their coy references to the gospel and GKC become just the “pinning” of another striking and well-wrought thing. We don’t know if they’re Christians (or indeed if they have any existential commitment), or if they’re just aesthetic reactionaries of a limited type. Eclecticism precludes evangelism.

The whole problem is well represented by their name, “Mumford and Sons.” It suggests history, tradition, the passing down of something real—above all, the transmission of blood. But Marcus Mumford is not in a band with his sons; in fact, he has no sons at all.