Personnel: Dan Grech-Marguerat (programming).
Photographers: Chris Maas ; David East.
It'll come as no surprise that an EP called Johannesburg carries a considerable South African undercurrent to its rhythms and productions. It's a musical element heretofore unheard of in Mumford & Sons' music but it's not an uncomfortable fit, even if Johannesburg often brings to mind both Paul Simon's pioneering Graceland and, especially, the light lilt of Vampire Weekend. Unlike Simon, who built songs upon existing rhythms, Mumford & Sons collaborate with Baaba Maal, Beatenberg, and the Very Best, and this give and take brings the group closer to the globally minded urban pop of Vampire Weekend: despite all the African inflections, it sounds recognizably Mumford & Sons. Tellingly, it feels like a close cousin to the arena-filling moodiness of Wilder Mind but the songwriting is tighter and livelier and the band doesn't amble: Mumford & Sons proceed with intention, making this into a listen that's not only more compelling than their 2015 full-length, but one that suggests ways they could grow. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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