Ed Sheeran has made an incredible come back, breaking chart records with 16 songs in UK Top 20, but is his album Divide really worthy of the hype?
Perhaps not. The album starts with ‘Eraser’, an interesting choice considering Ed is not best known for his rap skills. Unlike ‘Sing’, the chorus does not have an interesting hook and it ends up sounding like a filler track. To follow is ‘Castle On the Hill’, an arena-ready, nostalgic, folk song. Sheeran remembers the experiences he had while growing up. It’s definitely one of the peak moments of the album.
“Sheeran’s lyrical content has taken a dive by the third song”
‘Dive’ is typical Ed Sheeran. A slow tempo, guitar-led love ballad. The chorus is disappointing: “Don’t call me baby unless you mean it”. Sheeran’s lyrical content has taken a dive by the third song. ‘Shape of You’ is arguably a ‘Tropical House’ single, which has a bouncing, simple beat with a very glossy production, but thoroughly banal lyrics. It may not be the best track in the album, but it’s definitely the one with the most commercial appeal.
‘Perfect’ is Divide’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’, a ballad with beautiful instrumentation (bonus for the violin in the background), in which Ed showcases his powerful voice, but does not exactly put him out of his comfort zone. ‘Galway Girl’ an upbeat, lyrically silly track. I understand why Sheeran’s label tried to prevent it from appearing on the record. Nonetheless it’s fun, catchy and somewhat different from the typical chart pop song. He mixes his sound with traditional Irish musicians from Dublin in the chorus.
In ‘Happier’, Ed Sheeran, again, mentions feeling miserable because his “ex” found “someone new”. Another generic sentimental lyric, but one he can definitely pull off. It keeps him relatable to the public, a huge part of his commercial appeal.
‘New Man’ is one of the weakest moments in the album, especially lyrically as he mentions how his ex is ‘now eating kale, hitting the gym, keeping up with Kylie and Kim’, the kind of ‘faux-deep’ content you would expect from Drake: “you started wearing less and goin’ out more”. It’s much like his other Divide tracks, analysing other people, or his relationships, but never looking at himself.
“The twenty six year old singer sounds like a naïve teenage boy”
Considering he is one of the most successful songwriters in the world, it’s strange that in ‘What Do I Know’ the twenty six year old singer sounds like a naïve teenage boy when he says, “we could change this whole world with a piano”. ‘How Would You Feel’ is like a wedding singer track. It is not innovative but it works for Ed Sheeran.
In conclusion, though many tracks are simply background music, Ed continues to cash in on relatability throughout his third album. He still has a glacially clear, smooth voice, charisma and the ability to create a stratospheric sales record.