I know that in this post, I talked about Ed Sheeran’s new album, however I couldn’t resist doing a full review anyway! I really enjoyed writing the review of ‘La La Land’ so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me to practise those reviewing skills again.
After a two year hiatus defined by a complete disappearance from the public eye, Ed Sheeran’s third album was bound to be highly anticipated, and rightly so. With a sudden reappearance at the beginning of 2017, Sheeran teased a new album to be released later in the year. Not long after, the album’s debut singles were released – ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle on the Hill’. As expected, both songs were instant hits and occupied the top two spots in the charts for an unprecedented five weeks. When his third album, entitled ‘÷’ was finally released on 3rd March, it was met with great excitement. Within a day of its release, the album occupied the top two spots on the album chart, and the top ten singles were also dominated by Sheeran’s tracks.
While still following his traditional style of lively songs mixed with the slower and more emotional, this new album is refreshing material from the much-loved artist. From anthemic dance track ‘Shape of You’ to the tear-jerking ‘Supermarket Flowers’, Sheeran completely nails this new album. The album features a beautiful mixture of songs, which are, as always, filled with both meaningful and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, as is his typical style.
Instead of giving a generic view of the whole album, I thought it might be more interesting to talk about each song individually. So here we go:
I was originally surprised that Sheeran chose this as the album’s opening track due to it being quite heavy on the “rapping”. However, the lyrics are honest and the chorus is incredibly catchy. I’m not usually a fan of his raps, (I didn’t like ‘Don’t’ or ‘Sing’ because of the rapping), however the mixture of the rap with the chorus is the perfect combination for me and the more I listen to this song, the more I like it!
Castle On The Hill
This was actually the first song I heard from the album, and I think it was a great choice for him to release as one of the first singles. It isn’t too deviated from what he has released before, and it is definitely a typical Sheeran power ballad!
‘Dive’ is one of my least favourite songs on the album. Every album has “filler songs” and this does feel slightly like that to me. This is another ballad, and it is a beautiful song, but it feels very similar to other songs he has released before and so I feel like I’ve already listened to it a lot, even though I haven’t. However, this is just my opinion because one of my friends really liked this song.
Shape Of You
Sheeran was definitely onto a winner when he wrote this. I don’t know anyone who has listened to the album and doesn’t like this song. Although very different from other things he has released, this feels like a dance anthem and is ridiculously catchy. Although not included on the album, Sheeran’s collaboration with Stormzy for his performance at the BRITs was ingenious and brought something even more unique to the track.
Dubbed “the new ‘Thinking Out Loud'” by Sheeran himself, ‘Perfect’ is a love song that will be a first dance song at weddings for years to come, I imagine. However, although it is a beautiful song, I don’t think it beats ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and for me, it isn’t the most romantic song on the album. I feel that the whole album shows how much Sheeran is in love with his girlfriend, and this track is the prime example of that.
Up to this point (excluding ‘Shape Of You’), the album has been fairly typical of Sheeran’s work. Some more upbeat tracks, but also plenty of ballads. And then we reach ‘Galway Girl’. This song is completely unlike anything Sheeran has released before and has a real kind of Irish folk-rock feel to it. The style of this song is also unlike anything else on the market which gives Sheeran back some of the originality he may have lost with his previous album and the beginning of this.
The next two songs on the album seem to revert back to Sheeran working through heartbreak. ‘Happier’ is a slower and more melancholy song that seems to suggest he misses his ex. This track feels quite reflective and questions his own feelings. He thinks about how perhaps both himself and his ex are better apart. The lyrics to this song feel deep and continue the honesty that has been key to the album thus far.
On the other hand, ‘New Man’ is a much more tongue-in-cheek take on a break-up where Sheeran discusses how his ex has changed after their separation. This song is much more upbeat and features many of the cheekier lyrics that he has become known for.
Hearts Don’t Break Around Here
This track really feels like a natural progression from the previous two tracks. Again, this is much more of a slow ballad. Although I do like this song, having three slower songs in the middle of the album does seem to slow it down, and I feel that a more upbeat song would have been welcome here. This track is reflective about the idea of moving on and being in love and feels very natural.
What Do I Know?
Very different than anything he has done before, ‘What Do I Know?’ is a step away from Sheeran’s usual themes for his music. From the deeply personal to a more generic look at the world and how everyone has the potential to make a difference and to get people talking about important issues. To me, the idea of the song is that everyone “knows” something that needs sharing (love), however we all have to believe that we are capable of getting the message spread and that what we do know is important.
How Would You Feel (Paean)
This is by far the most romantic song on the album. I also love the backstory to this song – that he wrote it for his girlfriend and then forgot it existed until she wondered why he hadn’t put it on the album! Although ‘Perfect’ will be popular at weddings, I believe that this will be even more so, particularly due to Sheeran’s honesty about love and how it is a conscious choice. It is a really beautiful song and again highlights how much he is in love with his girlfriend!
‘Supermarket Flowers’ is again unlike Sheeran has ever produced. It feels incredibly raw and emotional, as if he is exposing his true feelings in this one song. This track was apparently written after his grandmother passed away, and the emotions he expresses in the track seem untouched. The simple backing track, along with the moving lyrics make this a definite tear-jerker and very relatable for anyone going through grief. I feel like this is a beautiful ending to the ‘normal’ album edition.
Bonus Track: Barcelona
Again a completely unique track, ‘Barcelona’ feels very summery and the inclusion of a few phrases in Spanish have me wishing for my summer holiday already! It is yet another catchy tune and has a very relaxed vibe to it.
Bonus Track: Bibia Be Ye Ye
Reportedly inspired by Sheeran’s time in Africa during his hiatus, ‘Bibia Be Ye Ye’ is unlike anything I have ever heard. It is a real feel-good song and will be stuck in your head all day. This again feels like a holiday tune and the simplicity of the background music, along with the excerpts of African dialect make it very original but also one that will have you dancing round your room every time it plays!
Bonus Track: Nancy Mulligan
Similar to ‘Galway Girl’, this song seems to also take inspiration from Irish folk music. This track seems much more anecdotal and feels not unlike traditional folk music. The story is very Romeo and Juliet-esque with the ideas of forbidden love, however in relation to Irish religious divides. I’m very curious to know whether the track was inspired by real life, or whether it was entirely fictional.
Bonus Track: Save Myself
Reverting back to previous themes of self-reflection and criticism, this track feels confessional from Sheeran. It is again deceivingly simple, yet explores the very personal idea of loving yourself and having to look after yourself before you look after anyone else. Although I think this a very powerful song and it does leave the listener with many things to think about, it seems a shame to end the album with this track as it pales into comparison with other songs such as ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘What Do I Know?’.
So there we have it! Ed Sheeran’s third album broken down for you. I must add, those opinions are purely my own and I’m sure not everyone will agree with me.
The album is entitled ‘÷’ (Divide), however I do feel that ‘share’ would also be appropriate., because this is one of those albums where everyone will view each song differently to the last person, and every individual will relate to each song differently. I love talking about Ed Sheeran’s music anyway, so this is one of those albums that you want everyone to hear and give their opinion on.
My favourite songs are ‘Galway Girl’, ‘Shape Of You’, ‘New Man’ and ‘What Do I Know?’. I would love to hear what your favourite song(s) are, so please let me know in the comments!
Until next time,