Review Summary: A disappointing debut from an excellent live performer.
When I first heard Ed Sheeran perform live, I was amazed. I thought he had tons of potential and could become the next big thing. His live performances were great, and I looked forward to his studio work, which hopefully wouldn't waste his talent.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. "The A Team" was a great song with unique lyrics about a drug-addicted prostitute. If the rest of the album was like that, this would be an enjoyable listen. However, the album is an inconsistent ride with songs about love, love, and more love. Hell, the last track is titled "Give Me Love"!
Sheeran's lyricism is a main flaw of this album. Sometimes, they're a great, well-constructed metaphor ("Lego House"), and at other times, they're just a complete fucking mess. Look no further than "Wake Me Up", which was surely stolen from an adolescent male's diary. It's hard to take Sheeran seriously with lines like "I know you love Shrek, 'cause we watched it twelve times" and "if your DVD breaks today, you should've got a VCR, 'cause I'll never own a blu-ray, true say". I get that he's trying to be romantic here, but he tries so hard that it just comes out lame.
The cheesy lyrics don't stop there, of course. "This" has Sheeran declare, "This is start of something beautiful. You are the start of something new," while "U.N.I." has the hilariously awful "You and I ended over U.N.I." "Kiss Me" is so generic and cheesy that it could fit right into a One Direction album.
Thankfully, there are some decent songs in the midst of all the lyrical sh*t. "You Need Me, I Don't Need You" is a great fuck-you anthem dedicated to the haters, and "Small Bump" is a deeply moving tune about a miscarriage. "Drunk" is Sheeran's vocals at his best, and "The City" features an addictive guitar riff in the background.
Ed Sheeran's debut is an okay first album, but judging from his live performances, he can do so much better. Maybe if he toned down the lovey-dovey bullshit and sings more songs with wise social commentary like "The A Team" and "Small Bump", he can actually be a great singer-songwriter.