After taking a years hiatus from social media and music, Ed Sheeran is back to woo the world once again with his particular brand of singer-songwriter charm. His most recent album is named ‘÷’, following on from ‘+’ and ‘x’, and true to the mathematics theme running through each album, the musical blueprint is still largely the same.
The record is what you’d expect from Ed Sheeran after the success of his last album. There’s the crooning, slightly drippy love songs, the hip-hop influenced tracks, the generic singer-songwriter stuff and the straight up pop songs – there is an overwhelming presence of ‘business as usual’. However, as predictable as it may be there’s no denying that what he does he does extremely well.
Playing it safe is an understandable path to go down for a pop star that has made his mark sticking to a tried and tested formula, as well as writing for other massive pop stars like One Direction and Justin Bieber, but it’s disheartening to find such little experimentation at all on this album. The lead single from his last album, ‘Sing’ was completely unexpected and it captured people’s attentions readily. The two lead singles from ‘÷’ are great tracks, but they sound like they could have been tacked on to the end of his last album and no one would have been any the wiser.
‘Galway Girl’ is the first track to catch interest outside of expectations, an Irish-jig of a song full of fiddles that will get people’s toes tapping and feet stomping, however it’s frustratingly short at not even 3 minutes long. Another highlight is ‘New Man’, a swaggering track that has Sheeran being spiteful about someone’s new man, including the lyrics “he’s got his eyebrows plucked and his arsehole bleached” which don’t fail to pack an amusing punch.
Ending the album is ‘Supermarket Flowers’, a track about Sheeran’s late grandmother. It’s a heartbreaking track and one that’s sure to elicit tears in many listeners as you hear him describe his grandmother as “an angel in the shape of my mum”.
‘÷’ is everything that you would expect from a new Ed Sheeran album, and is therefore ready-made for existing fans – whilst the singles current radio play may win over the more casual listeners. There’s a reason his music is inescapable in this day and age, and he’s cemented that reputation even further on this album. One may suggest that you can’t blame the youthful singer-songwriter for not pushing his own musical boundaries when there’s surely going to be many more albums and many more years ahead for him to experiment with.