Album Review

Ed Sheeran – =

He’s pretty much mastered the love song schtick; occasionally moving proceedings in a more dance pop direction. Whatever he’s up to at the time, Ed Sheeran is an artist who remains extraordinarily wishy-washy and one-dimensional, and has never sounded good to my ears.

But Jesus Christ, does everyone else disagree – the man literally breaks records, has some of the most-viewed-ever videos on YouTube, and has inspired a whole generation of wannabe-folk pop musicians. For the last 10 years, Ed Sheeran has been all up in my grill, and once again he’s given us an album that equals = bad.

= runs a whole 48 minutes and 23 seconds and almost every moment of it is unbearable. What I will say is that each Ed Sheeran album is consistent. They are consistent in that they all come together to create an exasperatingly bland listen.

A pop artist needs some kind of personality that shines through. Dua Lipa is a good example of this. Unfortunately, Ed simply never has had, or will have that twist; he doesn’t bring that kind of dynamic. Instead, he fades into the background, much like his music. Like the entirety of his discography, = should be one hundred times less successful than it is. An album like this deserves to be an artist’s deathbed.

The opening track Tides kicks off the album in the most inoffensive way. A painfully derivative, non-descript starter for an album. Ed has written this song at least 10 times before.

Never one to shy away from clichés, The Joker and the Queen shows Ed going in hard on the deck of cards metaphor. Of course he’s the ‘joker’ and his love interest the ‘queen’. Nothing new to see here. The inclusion of strings on a track is intended to set a song in motion and elevate its beauty. In this case, when the strings come through towards the closing, all it does is induce this uncomfortable, icky feeling.

Bad Habits is the lead single, and a monotonous tropical EDM number with little that requires comment aside from a tired melody in the chorus which will fatigue you.

Who does Ed Sheeran write music for? Who’s listening to the lyrics on this album and concluding that Ed Sheeran is a good songwriter? I’m still looking for the answers. And while it’s bad, yes – me, you and everyone else knew it was going to be. But hating on this album really doesn’t even feel worth it, when you can just shrug and move on to something that is truly inspiring.

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