Riding the wave of two hugely successful albums, + and x, Ed Sheeran continues his penchant for mathematical musicality on his latest album, Divide.
Opener Eraser is built around a Latin guitar riff, with the British singer rapping about the negative side of fame. When the chorus arrives, Sheeran invokes the kind of layered harmonies heard from 90s boybands.
Castle On The Hill is based on the memories of teenage life with friends, and feels like hybrid of U2 and EDM. The tracks unleashes one of his most anthemic choruses to date, although the faux handclaps come across as tacky.
From this point on, Divide’s track-listing becomes a little clumsy, alternating between slow (Happier, Hearts Don’t Break Around Here) and upbeat pop.
Dive is a generic soul attempt, but does feature a slick guitar solo, and shows Sheeran pushing his vocals to breaking point. Perfect has a bluesy ballad feel with soft organ, and mimics the chords to The BeeGees’ classic, cheese-oozing crooner, How Deep Is Your Love.
Shape Of You has a distinctive Justin Timberlake edge, with scratchy rhythms and octave vocals, while New Man isn’t far off early Sheeran influencer Nizlopi, with his trademark rapping over acoustic guitar and an R‘n’B beat.
What Do I Know? is a sure-fire hit, with its laidback, Jack Johnson-esque rhythms and memorable chorus, while Galway Girl uses Irish fiddle to match its Ireland-inspired lyrics.
The album finishes strongly with How Would You Feel (Paean) and Supermarket Flowers. Both songs are sombre, and present some of Divide’s most emotive moments.
Divide is full of predictable lyrics and chord progressions, but it is undeniable that Sheeran has a knack for consistently catchy choruses. Unfortunately, the album’s lack of cohesion is its downfall, making this critic feel rather divided.