English folk revivalists Mumford & Sons' 2009 debut, Sigh No More, boarded the slowest train it could find on its journey from regional gem to pleasantly surprising, international success story. After simmering and stewing throughout the U.K. and Europe, the band landed boots first at the Staples Center for a rousing performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards that found the smartly dressed quartet tearing through "The Cave," and then backing, along with the equally snappy Avett Brothers, Bob Dylanon a generation-spanning rendition of "Maggie's Farm" that provided one of the better Grammy moments of the last decade or so. They may lack the lyrical prowess of "The Bard," but they know how to turn a phrase, plant a seed, and build a bridge and tear it back down again without losing the audience in the process. Simply put, they can bend the relative simplicity of traditional folk music to their collective wills, which is exactly what they do on their sophomore outing, Babel. It's also exactly what they did on their debut, and short of being a little rowdier and raspier, Babel feels less like a legitimate sequel and more like an expanded edition of the former. Working once again with producer Markus Dravs, who helmed Arcade Fire's Grammy-winning opus The Suburbs, the Mumford boys have crafted another set of incredibly spirited songs that bark much louder than they bite. Ballsy, pained, fiery, and fraught with near constant references to sin, salvation, and all of the pontifical hopes and doubts that lie between, most of Babel is caught between the confessional and an apocalyptic hootenanny, delivering its everyman message with the kind of calculated spiritual fervor that comes from having to adapt to the festival masses as opposed to the smaller club crowds. Tracks like "Hopeless Wanderer," "Broken Crown," and the vivacious title cut bristle with moxie and self-importance, but feel like a ruse, aiming for the parking lot with the kind of generic, turgid melodrama that always overshoots its mark, leaving another smoky hole in an already pockmarked landscape. It's a shame because there's some potential here, especially when the group eases back on the Me Street Band histrionics. Two albums in and Mumford & Sons still sound like a band fused to the starting block, paralyzed by the thought of having to truly race for their lives.