Ed Sheeran - ÷ (Divide)
All the pieces are there on this record. It's got soul, pop appeal and Ed Sheeran's everyman persona is still alive and well. He can write a hell of a song that damn near anyone can connect too. "Castle on the Hill" just drips with teenage discovery. With all this going for it you would expect Divide to be another smash on Sheeran's belt, yet somehow it still manages to miss the mark. It feels like Ed Sheeran's "aw shucks" persona coupled with his stellar song writing gimick is starting to wear a bit thin. This album seems to be the point where Sheeran goes from the struggling singer songwriter turned good, to the savvy somewhat pandering salesman. The turn is palpable on "Perfect" a song about his never dying love for his "perfect woman", but this is such well worn territory that Sheeran would really have to go out there to bring a new take to the subject. He doesn't. It is tough because the songs sound like they should be all time greats, but perhaps only if they came out a couple albums ago. "Galway Girl" is an example of a song that should be a ton of fun because it has all the elements that make Sheeran great, but the delivery is so sugary sweet you just can't get past it. From start to finish Divide just seems to be following a very specific formula that it can never break out of. I just don't how many times you can compare a woman to some element of nature and still call it original.
Save for a few up tempo tracks Divide hoovers around one note pretty much throughout. Sappy love songs are the weapon of choice, which is fine, but you need something to break it up, something to give the album a little more flavor. "Supermarket Flowers" is the most egregious in this respect, it is just so sappy and absolutely crawls along. "Barcelona" tries to pick up the pace a little, but it almost sounds like it belongs in a Disney movie and not on a pop album. His music has always been so personal yet exciting, this album is just missing that one thing to really set it apart from anything else out there. "Bibia Be Ye Ye" an African Rhythm inspired jam sticks out like a sore thumb. "Nancy Mulligan" is also almost the exact same song as "Galway Girl", and no I am not kidding. It just goes to show that this album does not feel cared for or stressed over, it is almost like this is just an album because Sheeran needed to make an album. Hopefully Divide will mark the time Sheeran pivoted into a new more exciting sound, but for now we are left with the most basic album he possibly could have made.
5.0 out of 10