Music plus Ed Sheeran equals instant success. That must be why his latest endeavor is so formulaic and in such a great way. Do not get me wrong, his latest release is something completely different from his previous two albums, we are just at the point where it is not hard for Sheeran to write a hit song. It is hard to deny from the get go that “÷,” or “Divide,” is going to be an instant success by any means. This record is punchy, melodic and full of a whole new depth and energy that we have not seen from Ed Sheeran.
The English-based Edward Sheeran has become something of a household name in the last few years. Realistically, he has been making a name for himself for the better part of the last decade. Getting his start back in 2004, it was not until the release of “+” in 2011 when he took his place in pop culture. He would then cement his place in super stardom with the release of “x” in 2014. From then he has dominated airwaves, made several features in films and has toured the world, most notably with Taylor Swift. Ed Sheeran really found his groove with his first two albums, then he decided to take a year off in 2016. Do not let that deceive you though, because “Divide” was announced and released in a short span in 2017.
“Divide” follows along the naming convention for all of Sheeran’s other projects for no other reason than branding because we are not seeing him break down at all with this record. This record consists of 12 tracks and clocks out around 46 minutes long, however you can pick up a deluxe version. The deluxe version adds an additional four tracks, extending the album’s length to be roughly an hour. From front to back there is no denying it, this is exactly how an Ed Sheeran album would sound. There are no curve balls or anything that, if you have listened to his discography at all, will surprise you. It does not push boundaries by any means and does not try to be different. Yet there are some reasons why this works for “Divide.”
Musically, we get a lot more depth from this record, this is apparent from the lead track “Eraser.” This track is the pinnacle of the folk hip-hop style that Sheeran encompasses, but what works well for it is that it starts off small and as it progresses, keeps adding new elements to it. Soon enough you are nodding along to the beat. It is hard to deny the fact that the blend of hip-hop and folk is starting to lose its punch, tracks like “What Do I Know?” and “New Man” have a quaint sense of freshness about them. On the other spectrum, we all know Sheeran has no trouble writing a slow and moving ballad, that is still the case here with “Divide.” Tracks like “Supermarket Flowers” and the single “How Would You Feel (Paean)” have no trouble connecting with the audience and really slow things down entirely.
Lyrically, Ed Sheeran has always been pretty open about his life and turns that into his greatest inspiration for his songs. This time around, we are really connecting with some inner struggles as well as longing and frustration with relationships. “Dive” encompasses many of these aspects really well. Other tracks like “Galway Girl” and “Happier” are more about specific individuals and more open-letter type songs in that sense. Looking back at that opening track, “Eraser” really has more of a feel of him as a person just trying to get some things off of his chest. That is really the track that feels mostly that way, but other tracks have the same feeling, just not nearly as bad.
Should you listen to it?: Yes!
Of course at the end of the day you should listen to it. It is Ed Sheeran. You probably have listened to the three singles off of this record dozens of times already. Now it does not necessarily have the feeling of being too cookie-cutter at this point, it does give off that sense at points. Honestly, it is worth picking up the deluxe version, which has some tracks that really just stand out. I do not know how well Ed Sheeran is at mathematics, but he has no problem formulating hits.