I've always been a big Ed Sheeran fan, his No. 5 Collaborations project was a fantastic EP and it really caught my eye. Then the You Need Me EP was released and I started to think that this guy really has something. His first debut album, +, was a mixed bag with songs like A Team and Small Bump really hitting the mark of what he was about, but it seemed to just not be cohesive at all. He followed on with this avoidance of cohesion on his second album, X, which was very average in comparison. Not to mention, it was a clear message that he was moving away from the guy with a guitar and loop machine as he realised he was starting to fill Wembley easily with big hits like Sing. A fun but grinding song after a while.
This leaves us with his third full length album, Divide. And at this point I'm questioning whether Ed Sheeran needs someone to put his track list together for him, or if someone else is doing that for him because if they are then they need sacking. Going from Eraser to Castle on the Hill to Dive and then bursting into Shape of You, it's an absolute roller coaster. It's something he needs to work on because these songs do not transition well at all. Anyway, Eraser harks back to the old sound with the sound of a solitary guitar and Ed trying his hand at rapping throughout. The bars are incredibly weak and it's a strange opener to the album, because Sheeran has shown he can spit before with tracks like You Need Me. Moving into Castle on the Hill, it tells the story of how he misses his youth and all his friends, but now they've grown up and thus apart. It's great songwriting and story telling and I'm sure it's relatable for many. Plus, it moves into a big, glorified, singalong chorus expertly and it is definitely one of the best song son the album.
The song New Man is honestly one of the worst songs Ed Sheeran has ever written, I also can't believe that Jessie Ware tagged her name onto the writing credits for this. It's the story of an ex-lovers new man (obviously) but Ed Sheeran just attacks this man for 3 minutes straight with an incredibly cringe rap that harks back to the anthem Don't but completely misses that mark. Also, any song that talks about a man getting his ar*ehole bleached should have been scrapped altogether. Not to mention, the song is incredibly pretentious as Ed sings "I'm positive your new man don't wanna know about me". However, for every miss there's a hit, and hits don't come much bigger than the dance floor filler Shape of You. If you've been anywhere near a sound system this year then you've heard this song, and it is a great song. But, it is moving away from that sound that made Ed Sheeran what he is today, with the use of beat and drum machines throughout it's a long way from the suffolk busker we've all grown to love. Despite this arguably being the best song on the album, the fact that he doesn't have full writing credits really irks me because that's the charm of him, he's a singer-songwriter.
What Do I Know gives me incredible nostalgia because it sounds very 2005 Jack Johnson vibe style. I'm not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing, or whether that's the sound he was going for, but I thoroughly enjoy the basic background to this track. It's a voice, an acoustic guitar and some harmonising over the chorus. Whilst Sheerans voice doesn't carry him through the song it just adds to the charm because it's raw and basic and it's exactly the type of stuff I want him to make, even if the lyrics are incredibly cringe. Finally, the Irish inspired banger Galway Girl is one of them songs where you listen to it and hate it. But then for the next week you can't stop singing it and then it grows on you until you're drunkenly screaming tune when it comes on in a club. It's fantastically written music wise and whilst once again the lyrics are missing the mark, it doesn't matter because the music is carrying it through.
Overall, Ed Sheerans third album proves to us that he's hitting his limit lyrics wise but he still has a lot of growth to have music wise. The problem this sees in the future is that the beats are getting better and his lyrics are going stale, but why should he care when he's occupying 16 of the top 20. The albums a massive hit in the mainstream but I can't help but feel a bad taste after listening to the whole thing, there's a lot of cringe in the album, and I can only imagine it's going to get worse.