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Mumford & Sons rocks the music world

By Mikael Wood
Los Angeles Times

Describing the latest album from his band Mumford & Sons, Ben Lovett sidesteps much of the language artists often use to talk about their music. He doesn’t, for instance, refer to “Babel” as a bit of creative risk-taking, or as the product of divine inspiration.

Lovett, the keyboardist, says the record was “forced out of this internal desire to prove that we have many more songs in us.”

Mumford & Sons released its debut, “Sigh No More,” in 2009 and set about touring the world. Before long the London-based group – which also includes singer-guitarist Marcus Mumford, 25; bassist Ted Dwane, 28, and banjo player Winston Marshall, 25 – had all but exhausted the tunes on “Sigh No More.” For 2012 it needed new ones.

In October “Babel” entered Billboard’s album chart at No. 1, scoring the year’s biggest sales week with more than 600,000 copies sold. (Last week Taylor Swift broke Mumford & Sons’ record with 1.2 million copies of her album, “Red.”)

How did these London lads carve out such an impressive space singing original songs about struggle and redemption?

Their strategy begins with touring, and lots of it. As Lovett suggests, he and his bandmates more or less live on the road, performing crowd favorites and honing new material in a variety of settings across the globe, from tiny pub gigs (including several recent ones in Dublin) to roomy amphitheater concerts to the daylong mini-festivals it put on this summer in out-of-the-way American cities such as Dixon, Ill., and Bristol, Va.

With “Babel” out for a month, it’s too early to say how much higher Mumford & Sons might fly – or how much further the band’s influence might extend.

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