Skipping the Sophomore Curse: Mumford, Adele, and The Civil Wars
The internal pressure for Lindsay Lohan to keep doing drugs is nothing compared to the crushing expectations of the anticipated sophomore album. Mumford & Sons debut album Sigh No More, Adele’s 21, and The Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow changed the trajectory of music, launching 1,000 copycats chasing the same results. Before anyone jumps on me about Adele’s 21 not being her debut album, I know. Although her debut 19 was released to critical acclaim, 21 spent 64 weeks in the Top 10 as of May 18, 2012 with revolutionary results and universal appeal. Stick with me…
Anticipating the release of Mumford & Sons‘ Babel later this month, The Civil Wars are currently recording their second album, and Adele is on hiatus and pregnant with her first child, it begs the question of can they do it again? Does the world want more of the same or do they want their next albums to be completely different?
Mumford released “I Will Wait” from their upcoming album and it has all the elements that captivated listeners the first time. The song’s burning urgency fuels their trademark crescendo build that rivals a drunken sing-along at closing time. As always, it’s peppered with that down-home banjo and foot stomp that promises another bonafide hit.
After relentless touring, two Grammy wins, fiercely dedicated fans, and over 500,000 US copies sold of Barton Hollow, The Civil Wars duo of John Paul White and Joy Williams have taken a personal break for Joy and manager/husband Nate Yetton to have a baby this summer and recharge. They already have sold out several shows overseas this Fall and have once again teamed up with producer Charlie Peacock to record their much-anticipated second album. Although The Civil Wars are not yet a household name, their strategic unconventional climb suggests that this duo and their camp are smarter than average bears (translation: the crusty old guard of the music industry should take note). Bottom line: The Civil Wars have a lot of runway ahead of them.
Adele‘s next album probably has the highest risk and least chance of success. 21‘s blinding success and 6 Grammy wins destroyed records and Adele gained adoration and respect through all walks of life in every corner of the earth. Unfortunately, the pendulum can swing just as hard in the opposite direction. Adele’s raw emotion, exquisite voice and stripped arrangements struck a hard nerve from anyone who’s ever heard of a heartbreak. Much like Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill whose success plummeted once she became (God forbid) happy, Adele has since found love and gotten pregnant. She’s doomed.
There’s nothing I appreciate more than a heart-stopping album that commands my iPod for month. Adele, Mumford, and The Civil Wars have used their fresh approaches and their undeniable talent to change the musical landscape forever. Here’s to hoping that lightning bolt keeps striking!