Ed Sheeran doesn’t need an introduction at this point, you all know this fluffy, ginger haired, acoustic boy. Initially broke out in 2011, a time where banging club anthems were dominating the charts, but Sheeran managed standout from all of that and connect with a surprisingly high amount of people. It’s always felt like that Sheeran’s success has been due to his likeable personality, much of fan base seem to love him as a person more than the actual music he puts out.
A lot of Sheeran’s deeper album cuts tend to be slower acoustic tracks so it is a wonder how and who this style of music appeals to, especially considering his lead off singles are always the faster paced tracks. Sheeran tricks us into thinking that the whole album is going to be filled with upbeat material just so those pre order sales rocket.
Once again, Ed Sheeran’s done it here on Divide.
This time, he grabbed everyone by releasing the bland, Caribbean inspired beat of “Shape Of You,” because everyone has to release one of those songs these days (“One Dance,” “The Greatest,” “Rockabye,” amongst many others). Why be original, eh? “Castle On The Hill” was also released, which is definitely one of the best tracks on the Divide, and Ed’s certified festival anthem. The track feels like it’s pulling from the mid-2000s post-punk revival days, but most notably, it’s similar to James Bay’s “Hold Back The River”.
As for the deeper cuts on the Divide?
Well, I can’t say Sheeran didn’t try new things, albeit far too many new things. The first handful of tracks on Divide do not flow together whatsoever. He bounces around numerous genres (don’t get me started on the Gaelic rap label which I’ve already seen tagged to some of these songs) while finally falling into his usual, slow love songs routine towards the latter half of the album. There’s the track “Dive,” in which the instrumental sounds very reminiscent of the track he did with The Weeknd on Beauty Behind the Madness. Also, there is “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan,” both tracks attempt some kind of Pogues-esque, nonsense which seemingly comes out of nowhere.
There’s no problem with adding diversity of genre across an album, but you’ve gotta master one before you start 17 others, Ed.
Then again, there’s not much excitement when he does go back to the style he’s best known for. “How Would You Feel” is essentially a more boring version of his massive song, “Thinking Out Loud,” and we get the generic oh-woah-oh’s on “Happier.” I can’t help be reminded of the Charlie Puth and Wiz Khailfa song, “See You Again” on “Happier,” it becomes more prevalent when Ed uses his falsetto, a Charlie Puth comparison is never good for anyone.
By far the worst track on Divide is “New Man”.This song is basically the “I’m not bothered that you’ve got a new boyfriend but I decided to write a song about it because I am actually bothered” song. The song really reeks of jealousy, he constantly names all the bad aspects of his ex’s new lover (despite saying in the chorus “I don’t wanna know about your new man”) and how she’s missing all of Sheeran’s love.
Ed Sheeran is still checking up on her Instagram though because that’s healthy, right?
One positive to take from the Divide though is that there are still people out there that are willing to buy and listen to full albums, in this very singles-driven culture. Of course music nerds will always opt for the entire album experience but your average person that will quite easily just shuffle through playlists and not bother hearing albums in their entirety. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s good to see that there are artists like Ed Sheeran that can manage to pull in a big audience that will play the whole album.
It’s a real shame though that this isn’t really anything special, with all the excellent albums that come out each year, it’s gonna be something as mediocre as Divide will bring in the most sales and become the best seller of the year.
Divide to me is more of a compilation of 16 tracks that had no intention of flowing together to make a complete album.
The more tracks, the more streams I suppose, but there’s nothing memorable about this album. Nothing stands out, another bland pop album that will sell millions but has very little quality to show for its success.