Ed Sheeran is one of this country’s most popular and talented artists, demonstrating remarkable songwriting abilities in a fairly short career thus far which has seen nothing but heroic success for the ginger haired singer. After writing songs for Justin Bieber and One Direction as well as focusing on his own work, Ed took a hiatus last year where he shut off his social media accounts and has now returned with a fresh sound and a new lease on musical life. This whole album currently ranks from 1st to 16th on the Spotify singles charts and amassed over 50 million plays on it’s first day of release, breaking every streaming record imaginable. So is his third album ‘Divide’ worth all the hype it is being granted? Let’s find out.
Starting off with the opening track ‘Eraser’ was a solid choice from Ed as he shows his roots as well as what he is best at, balancing his quick flows with catchy chorus tones and a soothing guitar riff. I do think the track is very catchy and will get stuck in your head but I just think the guitar doesn’t really fit in with the heavy drums and Ed’s vocal pace in the verses. Although it is good placement as an opener with a catchy chorus, it doesn’t seem very cohesive. This is often the case I found with this album as there were plenty of great examples of the massive talents Ed possesses but there seems to be too much of an emphasis on a rejoicing instrumental, particularly in the drums and the electronic flavours thrown in there. I am not the biggest fan of ‘Castle on the Hill’ either which gives me a bit of a sour taste in my mouth given it comes second on the track listing.
Ed gives us something I never thought I’d see from him with lead single ‘Shape Of You’, a song I have been blasting ever since it was released, and that is slick attitude over a more electronic pop beat. It is a truly infectious track with serious bop potential to it and as far as I am concerned, that potential has been reached above and beyond. It is a cool sound that he has relative success with on this song but it does also show his great variation as an artist. ‘Galway Girl’ is another example of his experimental risks as he dips his toes into the world of Irish folk music, mainly with help from fiddle player Niamh Dunne who features on the track. I am not the biggest fan of this song in all honesty but it is easy to see why so many people are, it once again has a catchy chorus but the lyrics just seem a bit cliché and obvious.
With all of this being said, we still have the fantastic elements that Ed Sheeran is best known for, his remarkable ability as a songwriter. He has a beautiful presence on songs such as ‘Perfect’ and ‘Supermarket Flowers’, the latter of which is a heart-wrenching tear-jerker about the passing of his grandmother which occurred during the recording stages of this album. The track itself is all about the materialistic simplicities of life, putting the lifestyle of wealth to one side and remembering times of happiness with his family, through the likes of cards, teddy bears and, of course, supermarket flowers. These two songs are the stand-outs on the album in my opinion as they follow the roots of his previous work and bring us all to our knees as he blasts powerful ballads in our ears.
Lyrically, Ed really surprises me on this album, and not in a good way. He is painfully inconsistent on it, going from gorgeous choruses about a girl to tragic lyrics in the verses. A prime example of this is ‘New Man’ as Ed gives us a toe-tapping track in the chorus and bridge but the verses, particularly the first one, can only be described as laughable. He actually mentions this new man having his “arsehole bleached”, I almost collapsed laughing at this and it brought back awful memories of that Kanye West verse on 2016’s ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1.’. What is the new musical craze with this as a lyric? Ed also has a track which is literally called ‘Bibia Be Ye Ye’. Really? I almost didn’t listen to it I was that bemused at the title.
I am usually a huge Ed Sheeran fan but if I were to be entirely honest I don’t find this album quite as enjoyable as I did the previous two. But that doesn’t for one second mean I think this is a poor example, it just means that the quality of his other work has perhaps been his undoing this time around. I can see why this album is breaking records and giving millions around the world joy, because there are obvious indications of Ed’s talents and genius behind the tracks, I just find it a bit inconsistent and there are one too many forgettable songs for me. As a fan of his, I am fairly disappointed with this as a whole project, but it has given me plenty of new material to listen to and enjoy for many months to come. It is his worst album to date but it still has fantastic features to it and is one of the better big releases so far this year, that’s how good Ed Sheeran is. With that being said, I wouldn’t expect a high ranking for this album come the end of the year when it comes to compiling my list.