Ed Sheeran – ÷

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Our PearShaped writers Divide over what to make of Ed Sheeran's third album.

Aagya Pradhan

Two years after his self-imposed hiatus, Ed Sheeran is back! with more songs to cry to! Or, that’s what I thought. What we actually got is a lacklustre album with uninspiring, textbook songs about romance and nostalgia which is disappointing to say the least. On the brighter side of things, I will give it to Sheeran for being more experimental; tracks such as Galway Girl meshes brash guitar strums and drum beats with Irish folk tunes to create a strangely catchy song. I also adore Dive because it was one of the few songs that managed to leave an impression on me. Sheeran’s raw and impassioned voice combines with broken guitar chords to create a dramatic song about vulnerability and devotion. Likewise, Supermarket Flowers provides the most emotive moment within this album as Sheeran grieves for his grandmother backed up by a sombre yet melodic piano tune.

The rest of the album, for me, is forgettable. There are some catchy songs, like Barcelona, but its nothing worth raving about. The tracks lack any sort of consistency in form and in the theme it explores which makes for a disjointed listening experience. My biggest qualm with the album, however, has to be the terrible lyricism. Perfect and Happier are poorly composed songs about love seemingly taken straight from a textbook which is, frankly, upsetting coming from Ed ‘I wrote Small Bump’ Sheeran. In addition to this, we have the awful track New Man which seems like a re-write of every Taylor Swift song ever but from the male’s perspective; I did not expect Sheeran to stoop this low. Overall, this album is entirely forgettable with below average songs. It’s a drastic change of tune for Sheeran in terms of sound and lyrics but for the worst.

P.S. Stormzy’s remix of Shape Of You is superior than anything on this album. Spare yourself and go listen to that on loop.

Picks: Galway Girl, Dive, Supermarket Flowers

Rating: 1.5/5

Ellie Turner

It’s pretty apt that Ed has named this album ÷, because that’s what it seems to be doing. Reviews from critics have been divided, as have reviews from my friends and family. I’m divided myself – upon first listen I was so excited, but by the fifth I’m already bored. Even the album itself is divided between featuring lyrical gems and generic filler tracks.

One of these gems can be found in the form of opening track, Eraser. It’s a solid start to the album, featuring raw lyrics about the drawbacks of fame. It sees Ed as vulnerable as he was in his first album, arguably the factor that made + such a success. However, this vulnerability is soon lost as soon as Castle On The Hill and Shape Of You, begin. They’re great pop songs in their own right, but too formulaic for an Ed Sheeran album. The beautiful subtleties that are found throughout the lyrics of Ed’s hits such as Small Bump, You Need Me, I Don’t Need You and Photograph are hardly seen in ÷.

Whilst there are songs which feel genuinely Ed (Dive, How Would You Feel (Paean)), the majority of the album is filled with filler tracks. It all seems a bit forced. The lyrics of the ballads are almost too explicitly obvious, and whilst the mix of genres seen across ÷ are great at showcasing his obvious musical abilities, it’s a all a little too formulaic for me. I’ll stick to listening to + instead.

Picks: Eraser, Dive, How Would You Feel (Paean), New Man

Rating: 3/5

Ylenia Schardt

A few weeks ago, I wrote the rotating View From The Top column about Ed Sheeran’s highly anticipated new songs, Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill, which were dominating the charts. At the time, I wasn’t wholly convinced by Sheeran’s new content, but I had hope, because, well, Ed Sheeran. Sadly, my hope was misplaced. Sheeran’s new album has only made me more disillusioned with his music. It seems to me that Sheeran has created a record that aims to please his allegiance of die-hard teenage fans.

Sheeran starts off the album with Eraser, immediately reminding us of his down-to-earth boy-next-door persona, as if we needed reminding. He seems to have lost some of the authenticity that used to bleed through his early songs. Instead, he has to blatantly declare his authenticity: his small-town beginnings, his qualms about fame, his qualms about having qualms about fame. Song after song, the album is a mixed bag of emotions. The record places long-term love next to one-night stands, lyrics like “she is the sweetest thing that I know” against “now you’re eating kale, hitting the gym, keeping up with Kylie and Kim.” Sheeran treads into crowd-pleasing acoustic pop with Divide. Tolerable, but nothing special.

Picks: Dive, What Do I Know?

Rating: 3/5

Srinandini Mukherjee

Back in 2015, when he decided to take a year-long break from the spotlight, Ed Sheeran posted a message on multiple social media platforms stating, amongst other things, “…the 3rd album is on its way and is the best thing I have made thus far.” After listening thoroughly to Divide, I can’t help but admit that he knew what he was talking about.

Ed intelligently plays to his strengths in Divide. The 16 tracks are filled with his passionate, raw vocals, quirky and detailed lyrics, and versatility. To be honest, what comes across to me as most impressive about this album is how Sheeran covers so many different emotions with equal proficiency. Eraser provides a fantastic start and speaks of Sheeran’s conflicted emotions about his fame, Supermarket Flowers is a touching account of his grandmother’s death, New Man comically critiques his ex’s new boyfriend, while Nancy Mulligan and Galway Girl are both feel-good songs which bring in a wonderfully refreshing folk sound.

The album is weakened slightly, mainly through some of the love songs. Perfect and Hearts Don’t Break Around Here, while enjoyable, are filled with overused clichés like “Darling just hold my hand / Be my girl, I’ll be your man,” lack the lyrical originality he usually excels in.

That being said, Divide is the newest and brightest feather in Sheeran’s already-glittering cap. I can’t wait to see where he goes from here.

Picks: Eraser, Nancy Mulligan, Galway Girl

Rating: 4.5/5