Ed Sheeran
=


2.5
average

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
October 30th, 2021 | 42 replies


Release Date: 10/29/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: = average

I’m far from being an Ed Sheeran enthusiast, but even I can’t deny the smooth, summer-time dance beat that bastes Sheeran’s bread and butter sound on “Bad Habits”. For the first time in fact, I actually saw a glimmer of his talent; the track was stuck in my head for days afterwards, and I was actually okay with that. This led me to hope = was going to be the shake-up in sound that got me into his music. A record filled with his typical, moping disposition, but one that had a backbone of synth-y vitality to support his signature inclinations. Of course, part of me knew it wouldn’t deliver in the same way “Bad Habits” did, but since that song was a knee-jerk reaction to the pandemic, I had a slither of optimism for Sheeran yearning for new pastures. The end result is a lamentingly missed opportunity, and the quality of the songs here is… mixed. On the whole, the LP is serviceable in what it does, but for both fans of Ed Sheeran and casual listeners alike, = will only deliver half-a-dozen-or-so takeaways from its tracklisting.

Generally, the biggest problem with = is it feels cobbled together. The flow is far from being its main strength: going from the cheesy folk-ballad “Tides” into the fun dance-funk tune “Shivers”, and then doubling down on the dichotomy with the dour austere-acoustic “First Times” feels like I’m riding on the Mouse Trap at Blackpool Pleasure Beach – which, if you don’t know the ride, was notorious for giving the thrill-seeker whiplash from its brutal 90 degree turns (think about how a Tron motorbike operates its turns and you’ll get the idea). Nothing feels cohesive here. On paper, clocking in at nearly forty-nine minutes, you would think that = is going to be this big experience; in reality, all its length will do is have people picking out a handful of their favourite songs from it, and the rest they will callously throw away.

Which is a shame in all honestly, because there is potential in a lot of these tracks. Sure, for my own preferences, I loathed “The Joker and the Queen”, “Visiting Hours” and “First Times”’ devastating combination of dull-meets-corny, in these pulseless acoustic tunes, but I can’t lie by saying I didn’t enjoy the pop aspects of “Collide” or “Stop the Rain”. And that’s the thing with =, it gets the hooky pop chorus down to the tee. Hell, initially I had an aversion to the jarring folk-hip-hop “2step”, but quickly became enamoured with its moody vibe, booming beat, and effective hooks. So, suffice it to say, there are moments that will click with you eventually or catch you off guard, but overall, = tries to do too much, and the songs ultimately suffer for that. Since my preferences reside in what Ed Sheeran isn’t better known for, “Bad Habits” is the obvious highlight for me on here, but “Shivers” and “Overpass Graffiti” deliver on that same ethereal 80s-synth-pop sound that initially allured me into checking this album out in the first place. As for the rest of the album, it has little segments of potential, but its short attention span ultimately executes more misses than hits.



Recent reviews by this author
Rammstein ZeitHEALTH DISCO4 :: Part II
Placebo (UK) Never Let Me GoBad Omens The Death of Peace of Mind
And So I Watch You From Afar JettisonDeaf Club (USA-CA) Productive Disruption
user ratings (66)
1.9
poor
other reviews of this album
ghostalgeist (2)
Tryna find something real, but that's not the game they play....

HelloJoe (2)
= Boasts a genre-defining collection of songs. Some of which play to Ed's strengths while others are...



Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2021


17473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

not quite the disaster i was expecting

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2021


17108 Comments


summary = zing

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2021


17473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

*chef's kiss* from gnocci?

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2021


17473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

anyway, f this album



limp bizkit still sucks is out tomorrow

Sowing
Moderator
October 30th 2021


40940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I usually can count on Sheeran to deliver 1 beautiful string-swept ballad, 1 exceptional piano ballad, and 1 catchy and decently upbeat pop-rock tune per album. As long as I get that here it'll get the requisite 2.5/3.0 from me. I don't totally despise him although I do wish he'd drop the hip-hop ambitions and just make an entire album of 'Castle on the Hill's. About to dive into the review now.



Edit: review is good as expected, and I feel pretty confident now that this will be every bit as mediocre as all his other works. Looking forward to sifting through the garbage for my gems.

Digging: Zach Bryan - American Heartbreak

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2021


17473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks sow.



yeah, hopefully i articulated that well enough here, but it's the kind of album where people will get something from it, at the very least.



i just cant abide his slow acoustic numbers. they are painfully depressing, and i'm all about depressing music haha

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2021


17108 Comments


@simon,

Naturally babe. Can’t wait for this review to be the top google response to “Ed Sheeran new album review” (is this a thing). Hopefully it creates a few day old and never touched again accounts too - although they’re welcome to stay and maybe become excellent members of this fabled community.

Storm In A Teacup
October 30th 2021


39411 Comments


ed should take cue from Converge and join Cradle of Filth instead of just writing one song together.

MyMentality
October 30th 2021


376 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is incredibly dull, not even the highlights save this one for me. Bad Habits is a fun but run of the mill pop tune, First Times is nice but feels like something I've already heard a million times, same with Visiting Hours. Best song on here for me is The Joker & The Queen. Genuinely one of the best songs Ed's ever wrote in my opinion. It's a shame because Ed can really shine when writing songs like that one, but most of the songs on here are super underwhelming. Great review!

Purpl3Spartan
October 30th 2021


3497 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I enjoyed this but i doubt I’ll ever revisit it outside one or two songs



Genius summary



Bummer that the guy is content with using his songwriting talents to write inoffensive, formulaic pop songs. He could be so much more

Sowing
Moderator
October 30th 2021


40940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Agreed with everyone that his talent is underutilized. I mean the guy is making one hell of a living so good on him, but hopefully someday he sets his sights on something more ambitious. I have little doubt that he'd knock it out of the park.

zakalwe
October 30th 2021


35754 Comments


Do me a favour. The bloke is a talentless oik shat out by a business so devoid of the real deal that people actually give complete bollocks like this the time of day.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2021


17473 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@zak



Normally I’d agree with you, but there is something here on this. It’s abundantly clear he has the chops to make something great but is bogged down by trends or whatever

evilford
October 30th 2021


55378 Comments


Fuck this dweeb

fogza
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2021


5529 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Ed Sheeran's album titles are appropriate considering he's the most calculated figure in popular music. First times almost made me vomit in my mouth

Digging: Warpaint - Radiate Like This

LunaticSoul
October 30th 2021


2130 Comments


I swear to god seeing this little prick and "Elliott Smith" in the same sput-search make me all sick inside

I also came to post that fogza you are a very relatable person. thanks. that song you mentioned also made me puke

LunaticSoul
October 30th 2021


2130 Comments


If I were his wife and he gave me First Times as a present, I'd ask for a divorce and half of his income straight-away

Storm In A Teacup
October 30th 2021


39411 Comments


“Agreed with everyone that his talent is underutilized. I mean the guy is making one hell of a living so good on him, but hopefully someday he sets his sights on something more ambitious. I have little doubt that he'd knock it out of the park. “

It was less than 2 months ago he was talking in emails to Cradle of Filth about a collab. That would be the spark.

TheEnygma
October 30th 2021


127 Comments


so his albums are nothing but symbols? Cant wait for the "&" album

Sowing
Moderator
October 30th 2021


40940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I forget which song it is but there's one here that straight up rips off The Weeknd lmao



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy