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updated: 9/25/2012 2:04 PM

Mumford & Sons bring on the beautiful grit

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  • Mumford & Sons' "Babel"

    Mumford & Sons' "Babel"

  • Video: Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait"

Associated Press

Mumford & Sons, "Babel" (Glassnote Records)

Mumford & Sons' sophomore release is epic for a number of reasons: the gripping emotion, vulnerability, dark moments, the banjo -- all elements for a great musical composition. And then there is Marcus Mumford's voice.

The songs on "Babel" are anchored by his powerful tone, which is beautifully gritty and gravely, and downright commanding. He's got one of the best voices of our time.

On "I Will Wait," Mumford proclaims: "But I'll kneel down, wait for now, and I'll kneel down, know my ground." And on the closing track, "Not With Haste," he sings: "And I was broke, I was on my knees, you said yes as I said please."

The album explores the many facets of a relationship with deep, touching lyrics that don't sound cheesy, making for a collection of songs that feel honest and heartfelt. (Some of the songs could very well be about Mumford's wife, Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan.)

But Mumford isn't the album's only star. When the foursome harmonizes on songs such as "Ghosts That We Knew" and "Below My Feet," it brings on the chills. Another star is Markus Dravs, who produced the new record as well as the band's 2009 double-platinum debut, "Sigh No More," and Arcade Fire's Grammy-winning "The Suburbs."

"Babel," with its indie folk-rock swag, is one of the year's bests.

Check this out: "Broken Crown" is a track that builds up with speed and emotion, as Mumford yells in a capturing screech: "Crawl on my belly till the sun goes down, I'll never wear your broken crown."

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