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REVIEW: "Divide"

by Kristina Livingston - Managing Editor
Tue, Mar 28th 2017 11:00 pm

 I cannot constructively criticize Ed Sheeran's quality as a musician without feeling as if I have deeply offended those who derive so much joy out of his poppy and sappy love songs. But it is these very songs which appear to be his staying theme, something he has chosen to pursue year after year, album after album, without evolving as a musical artist which gets me all kinds of agitated.

"Divide" is Sheeran's newest release, topping all charts known to man and making it impossible to escape his current radio singles no matter where you turn.

To be brutally honest, I can listen to this album dozens of times in a row without coming away with anything of value. All I can focus on is the genuine confidence I have that Sheeran's future work will follow the exact same formula he has been drawing upon from the start: cutesy or somber love songs promising unnamed girl after unnamed girl he has the utmost to offer. 

The album starts off with "Eraser", a track in which Sheeran feels obligated to let listeners know he may be rich and famous, but he's not like those other guys who make money off writing songs about how they feel guilty making money: "I guess it's a stereotypical day for someone like me/Without a nine-to-five job or an uni degree/To be caught up in the trappings of the industry."  

With chart-topper "Shape of You", an admittedly tolerable anthem nearly everyone has fallen in love with, Sheeran pleases crowds across many demographics. 

Sheeran continues his "British chap" rap game with "New Man", in which he has harsh memories of a presumed ex-girlfriend. This song turned out to be my least favorite, as he goes through the ways in which he doesn't find her new boyfriend masculine enough. He waxes his eyebrows, pays attention to his fashion sense and wears what Sheeran degradingly dubs a purse. Yikes, Ed. 

Sheeran starts off all of his new tracks with racing or gentle acoustic riffs, likely to lull his listeners into a false sense of enjoyment. If it sounds like weightless soft rock introducing the revolutionary idea of a 2-dimensional boy feeling sad or perhaps happy because of a girl, it probably is.

Listening to Sheeran lament sadly about how women have come and gone in his life was agonizing, to say the least. It may be some people's cup of tea, but surely you have to get to a point where you're able to analyze what seems to be Sheeran's process: a bland heteronormative checklist. 

A song about feeling safe in a woman's arms? Check. Another about how your ex-girlfriend can f*ck off and enjoy her obviously inferior boyfriend because he isn't me? Big red check. He has not changed since the beginning of his career, at which point I was interested to see where he would take his style. Make that money though, I suppose, Ed.