Review Summary: A true talent wasted on bed-wetting music.
I had high hopes for Ed Sheeran. Ever since catching one of his early live performances, I had an image formed in my head of a fresh and inventive force who mashed together an array of influences into an exciting and vibrant new sound. True, artists aren’t always able to transfer the energy of their live shows onto their studio recordings, but it seemed absurd that such an obvious talent wouldn’t show itself once he did eventually release an LP. That optimism was checked somewhat upon my first listen of lead single ‘The A Team,’ but subsequent spins did thankfully unveil a fine composition, albeit one that had been diluted to such an extent that Sheeran was barely recognisable as the scruffy ginger kid who had previously wowed audiences with his minimalist electronica.
Unfortunately, ‘The A Team’ was very much a sign of things to come, and as such this debut album arrives as a severely watered down representation of a man who is so clearly capable of producing better. That’s not to say that + doesn’t have it’s moments; Given that he’s only 20, it’s remarkable that Sheeran can write songs with the underlying social conscience of ‘Drunk’ or ‘Grade 8.’ It’s sad then that this clear promise is largely masked by a blatant attempt to break into the emotional pop market currently dominated by Adele, rather than a further exploration of his urban roots, which would have been far more interesting. It doesn’t help that for every pleasant moment there are also numerous instances where Sheeran is found simply trying too hard. "That’s why you and I ended over U.N.I." for instance is a cringe-inducing attempt at lyrical poignancy which has fallen flat on it’s face before other factors are even allowed to wetten it to the point of liquidation.
To be fair, though, you can forgive such a young artist for missteps such as that. The fact that he (or more likely his record company) has moulded him into a pale imitation of his true self is more difficult to overlook, however, and it’s that sense of wastefulness which renders this debut such a disappointment. It's not that his songs aren't pleasant - they're never anything less - but they never threaten to be anything more than that, and the effect begins to grate rather quickly. Even worse, though, you get the impression that Sheeran himself isn't entirely satisfied with this new direction, and would far sooner be going down the hip hop/electronica path which first got him noticed. Maybe if he sells X units he'll be granted greater creative freedom, but it seems more likely that so long as he's on a major label his hands will remain tied.
This is pretty much spot on. I love 'The A Team' and I have a huge spot for 'YNMIDNY' too, but lol when U.N.I reached the chorus I actually lol'd. And yeah, it's so fucking annoying that everyone in the whole world is waxing lyrical about him like he's the second coming of Dylan or something. But I agree, he's a good singer-songwriter, but most of these are not good songs.
I enjoy The A Team but I don't get the hype surrounding the guy. He was really good on Jools Holland a few months back when it was just him singing with an acoustic guitar and a loop machine, but I don't expect anything like that on the album.
Good review pal, I hated this guy at first when I heard The A Team being played every other song on the radio, but it inevitably won me over. I see him as being a bit of an English equivalent to Jason Mraz, someone who is pretty sick live but who gets watered down on recordings into a shadow of their full potential.