Friday, 16 October 2009

Too posh to rock?

Mistress is seething this week after the reviews of the new Mumford & Sons’ album. The Guardian described it as “too polite” while Drowned in Sound said it “lacked character”. The worst was probably from The Independent who described the band as “posh kids who’ve suddenly discovered that actually folk music is, like, really good actually”.

The message boards weren’t much kinder, with one person saying: “They originate from a middle class public school…what did you expect?” And an Amazon reviewer said: “Hailing from posh Wimbledon….(they’re) not your typical working class northern heroes.”

It’s not that people don’t like the album that bothers me (each to their own) but the fact that they somehow it lacks substance because they’re posh. Since when did you have to be working class to either be a hero or a good musician? Jez people! When are we going to move on from this class obsession? So what if the band grew up in Wimbledon? So what if he went to Edinburgh and studied Classics? If I’m thumping my foot and strumming my banjo why should anyone care what my postcode is?

It’s interesting that, despite hailing from a similar background, the same hasn’t been said about posh rockers, Empire of the Sun. Maybe because when a man puts feathers in his hair everything else is eclipsed. Chances are however it’s more to do with the fact Australians aren’t as hung up about class as we are.

Linked in with this class obsession seems to be the belief that you need to have suffered for your art. Sylvia Plath did not achieve success until after her death. I asked Severin once whether he thought if she hadn’t died whether she would have become so famous. He thought for most people her death was an ‘oh, so you really meant it then’ moment. The tragic thing is she probably didn’t.

Of course out of great pain can come great art, however to claim someone isn’t good because they are too posh or nice seems petty and ridiculous to me. Mumford & Sons have a great technical ability, and I quite like the fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously. As far as I’m concerned I’ll take a Mumford hoedown over Morrissey misery any day.

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