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Mumford and Sons - 'Winter Wind'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:50 UK time, Sunday, 6 December 2009

Mumford and Sons

If the anti-PC brigade were correct, and there was actually such a thing as 'winterval' - there isn't, but don't let that spoil the spluttering - this would make an amazing Christmas carol equivalent. It's quietly optimistic, pleased without being smug, melancholy but uplifting. It is sure of itself, but only because all the lessons learned have been hard-won, and generally reflective of times gone by.

It's also in waltz time*, a bit like 'Away In A Manger', and lends itself well to massed harmonies, just like 'Silent Night'. And it's less sweary than 'Fairytale Of New York' while still being authentic real music, played by real musicians in a real band, so the kiddie rocksnobs will be pleased.

(Here's the video. Are they trying to eat the cameraman?)

Because what IS the winter solstice/Christmas/Frostyment all about if it's not a reckoning of the year's successes and failures, and a wish for future happiness to all? Why would we all feel the need to gather together and hand over gifts and hug and send positive thoughts around the world, if we weren't feeling olde-worlde romanticke at the turning of the year, and ready to flick over a new leaf in the future?

The Mumfs know this. They also know the best Christmas pop song of all time is not Mariah's (although that is a doozy), or Slade's (ditto), or even 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' (TWO doozies. An uberdoozy, if you like), it's 'Stop The Cavalry' by Jona Lewie. A song which managed to nail the euphoria and the sadness of this time of year with only a fistful of sleighbells, a passing mention of Christmas, and nothing at all about mistletoe or wine.

They might have taken it all a stage further - no Christmas, no sleighbells, probably no intention of writing a festive song at all - but they're demonstrating the crucial truth of the matter, which is that songs that speak about common emotions that we've all had, but don't really like to talk about, are much more potent than songs about common things that we all do, and we all know that we all do them.

So even if Christmas does end up being called winterval, or festivement, or SyCo's Gift Factormas, some things are too important to change.

Five starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: December 7th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

* Yesyesyes....technically 'Away In A Manger' is in 3/4 and 'Winter Winds' is in 6/8, but it's close enough for dancing.


  • Comment number 1.

    Come on Thranjax and all you other Mumford fans , tell everyone how good this song is ,the other single Little Lion Man and it's parent album .

    Go on , blow the Winter Winds through Christmas.....

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't see what the massive fuss over these guys is. I'll give the album a listen and perhaps eat my words, but I find them a bit average. As I said elsehwere, I prefere Fleet Foxes and think their winter song was much better. I can like both of course, but these guys just leave me a bit bored at the moment.

  • Comment number 3.

    A lovely christmas song, what is so good about this and the rest of their work is the elegaic nature of the music and the Englishness of it, the references to our life and our island. I feel the same way about their songs as I do when listening to some XTC or early Genesis or any of the actual folk music that gets past my inner musical bouncers. The weather is so awful at the moment - boo yar sucks to snow - that the promise of warmer times ahead is beguiling to me. Six stars. Fraser is right about the waltz timing of course.

    Listen to more mumford!

  • Comment number 4.

    The album is hideous. Dreadful in every way.


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