Divide is the third studio album from English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. I thought I’d try a different format of review and break the album down track by track. I’ve been a fan of Sheeran’s previous material, his first album in particular, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Divide has to offer.
The album opens on a fairly disappointing note for me. Ed Sheeran has a tendency to throw in random tracks where he raps and I just don’t think it works. Regardless, he takes us through the story of his (impressive) rise to success over his famed guitar loops and a booming beat to justify his rapping. Not the strongest start but the lyrics ‘Welcome to the new show, I guess you know I’ve been away’ are fitting to open the record. 6/10.
2. Castle On The Hill
Undoubtedly the better of the two singles released in promotion of this project, Castle On The Hill takes us back to Ed’s youth. It’s a really fun song and very relatable: ‘Had my first kiss on Friday night, I don’t reckon I did it right’. He talks on buying cheap spirits and getting drunk in the park, a common pass time activity for teenagers, you feel like you could be mates with Ed upon hearing this track. Very easy listening and a massive chorus for the live shows. 8/10.
The first few seconds of this track are just what I expect from Sheeran and after the loud and fun previous track, a change of pace is lovely on the ears. This is a gorgeous soul / blues inspired track where Ed looks back on a lost relationship and wonders where he went wrong. It’s stripped back with just a nice beat ticking the song along. This is undoubtedly the strongest vocal performance so far on the record, and the almost gospel like backing vocals complement his first perfectly. Like him or not you can’t deny he has a great voice and this track is a great example of that. The guitar solo was a lovely addition to the track. 9/10
4. Shape Of You
Released alongside Castle On The Hill, Shape Of You is quite a strange track. With a club type beat that sounds like it’s been plucked from Palmistry’s ‘PAGAN’ record (check it out). I think that he’s trying to appeal to such a mass audience with this track that instead of making one type of music well, he’s trying to have something for everyone and this track has suffered because of it. A glamourised story of meeting a girl in a club and taking her home for sex, just plenty of ooh’s and ahh’s to pad it out. 6/10.
Another gentle track that starts out lovely. Just Ed and his guitar which sounds gorgeous. In this track he serenades the special person in his life for the world to hear, lovely. Up until about the first chorus I found this bearable. I think it just gets very cheesy and a little bit sickly (I’ve got a girlfriend I’m not just being salty). When the strings come in I’ve had more than I can take, but I stick it out. When the lyric ‘I have met an angel in person, and she looks perfect’ hit the urge to change track was the strongest it’s been. I was glad to see the back of this song. 5/10.
6. Galway Girl
The story behind this track is that Ed fought to get this track on the album because his team didn’t think it was fit for the cut. To be honest they should’ve fought a lot harder. Another tale of meeting a girl and getting to know each other through an evening together. The stereotypical Irish instruments and melody over the chorus are just painful, undoubtedly the worst track on the album this far. 3/10.
Back to the comfort of his acoustic guitar after putting his Guinness down, Sheeran takes us on a trip into our feelings. The track sees Ed witnessing an ex moving on and he’s just stuck where he is. It’s a bittersweet song in the sense of he wants to be with her, but he’s happy that she’s happier now, even if it is without him. Another song topic people may find relatable and executed well. 7/10.
8. New Man
Quite interesting following a selfless track respecting his ex’s relationship with a track just slagging off an ex’s partner, but hey. Moving past the hypocrisy, this one is obviously targeted at people fresh out of relationships who are feeling pretty bitter about things. Ed just lists off typical annoyances you might find with your old girls new man. Nothing really appealing in this track unless you’re sour about a lost love. 5/10.
9. Hearts Don’t Break Around Here
This marks the first track on the second half of the record. And honestly, I think it could’ve opened the first half. This is a lovely track without the sop of ‘Perfect’. Sheeran writes these songs so well and his voice works insanely well with his acoustic guitar. If someone doesn’t spring to mind when you listen to this track, I pity you. The lyric ‘ I’m not scared of passing over, or the thought of growing old’ leading back into the final chorus is beautiful, and made just about every girl wish this was written with them in mind. 9/10.
10. What Do I Know?
The first thing that came to mind when this track was kicked in, was it is almost exactly the same sound he used for ‘Love Yourself’ which he co wrote with Justin Bieber. Once you get past that it’s quite a pleasant song about advice that’s been handed to him, and advice he will rally on to his children. It also describes the power of music as something that can change the world, which isn’t a surprising view to have from someone who’s world has been so drastically changed through the art form. A bit cheesy but a nice message. 7/10.
11. How Would You Feel (Paean)
A lovely acoustic guitar and piano intro to this song, the little melody the guitar is carrying is really pleasant. The chorus is nice on the ears and the song sees Ed, once again, confessing his love with a romantic interest. I took this as a recent relationship and is trying not to rush into saying the big ‘L’ word. Silky soul influenced guitar solo towards the end of the track just ties it all together. 8/10.
12. Supermarket Flowers
Ed Sheeran does these sad stripped back songs so well. This track is a tribute to Sheeran’s late grandmother and it is quite moving. The chord progression is very familiar feeling as Ed talks through the small details that can be so hurtful when we lose a loved one. The bridge of falsetto ‘ooh’s before the final chorus is appropriately angelic. A really classy and emotional tribute. 8/10.
I’m starting to feel a bit of an issue with the choice of track orders on this record (See track 7/8). Following on from the tear jerking Supermarket Flowers to a track almost exclusively about dancing. The opening line is literally ‘Well get up on the dancefloor tonight’ and you’ve hardly had chance to put your tissues away before Ed’s throwing you around a dancefloor. Aside from that this is a great, fun track that has a warm, tropical feel. A thudding beat keeps your foot tapping and you can almost feel the sun on your face. 8/10.
14. Bibia Be Ye Ye
Barcelona part 2. Ed wrote this track with FUSE ODG and it’s impossible to miss the influence. Another tropical style track just shows the mish mash of direction that Ed is going in with this record. Barcelona stood out to me as a fun one off track but now it’s difficult to tell the songs apart, just because the entire blueprints for the track are almost identical. There is nothing wrong with this song but it’s just unnecessary. 6/10.
15. Nancy Mulligan
Another Irish trad track from Sheeran as a tribute to his paternal grandparents, the track is named after his grandmother. I’ve got nothing against Irish music at all but I don’t understand how anyone can listen to this. It tells the story of his grandparents lives and when the cheers and claps kick in around the half track mark it’s painful. What is he going for with this style? The one your Irish nan will like. 4/10.
16. Save Myself
The final track on what has been quite a journey. Leaving on quite a sombre, but important note. Something a lot of peoples are guilty of is putting other peoples well being before their own, and this track shows Ed realizing he needs to put himself first. It’s quite a strange one really with this track quite obviously having something to do with his music helping fans. The final line on the record ‘Before I love someone else, I’ve got to love myself’ a gorgeous closing line. Just piano, strings and Sheeran’s voice. 9/10.
Well, that’s it. Overall the album gets the average of 6.8/10 which I’m happy with. Certainly not my favourite work from Ed Sheeran but it’s still been a pretty pleasant listen. I don’t think I’m going to be in a hurry to sit down with it as a full album again anytime soon but I can see myself picking off the tracks I enjoy.
What did you think of the album? Do you agree? Do you disagree? GET IN TOUCH!
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