Ed Sheeran garnered well-deserved attention with his 2011 single “A-Team,” but ever since he’s been proving his critics correct with droning, and often mindless, pop songs. With his newest project, Sheeran does much of the same, handing his haters the ammo they desire.
After the surprise of his debut album +, it seemed Sheeran was poised to become the premier singer-songwriter of his generations. Songs like “Give Me Love” felt promising, but after the release of his sophomore LP X, Sheeran took a head-first dive into pop and hasn’t looked back, experimenting with poorly produced contemporary R&B and even some Skrillex-esque electronic influences. Now, he’s completed his evolution, writing some of the schmaltziest music imaginable
Plus was a decent album, and acted as a sampler of what Ed Sheeran offered as a new and emerging name in folk-pop. Two records later, he’s like every other pop artist, making songs that moms can love and jam out to while shopping in the produce section of their local grocery store.
This record’s songs follow a flat-out boring and forgettable formula. One of the album’s executive producers Benny Blanco is likely to blame considering his track record of producing other mindless singles for other pop artists such as Justin Bieber and Maroon 5. In “Perfect,” the only song on the album with some potential, Sheeran retreats to safety by relying on lackadaisical lyrics that sound like the worst of the early Beatles.
Every other song on Divide¸ features Sheeran slowly singing over his acoustic guitar, with no sense of direction in his lyrics or even trying to get a message across. To jazz some of these songs up, Sheeran often mixes in a dance beat in the background. This isn’t a horrible thing, but the beats Sheeran selects are so simplistic and monotone that it sounds like a six-year-old made them while screwing around in Ableton.
Sheeran’s original style is nowhere to be found on this record. All of the personal charm in his first works has been ripped out of his music and replaced with the most generic lyrics imaginable. In “Castle on the Hill,” Sheeran sings, “Found my heart and broke it here, Made friends and lost them through the years.” At
surface level, they’re pretty decent lines, but after one listen to this LP it’s obvious how generic Sheeran’s words are. These lines could be transplanted into any other chorus on the entire record and still make perfect sense.
Divide is the tragedy many will make it out to be. Some critics are going to dodge around its vile characteristics, arguing that much of this LP is well-performed and comes from a well-intended and generally likable guy. And although there might be a bit of truth to those comments, it’s impossible to ignore its poor lyricism and song construction. Divide is a dangerously generic album from an artist that has devolved from an enticing folk-pop singer into someone who’s focused on money and fame rather than the art.
What’s even more disappointing about this LP is that it means Sheeran may never realize his potential in the folk world. Whether or not he can explore pop
further has yet to be seen, but hopefully in his coming releases he find the variety and excitement that many of his fans so desire.