Ed Sheeran is back with his first solo album in four years, and with it, he continues his stance of being a hitmaker, but is he really anything more than that?
= is probably Ed Sheeran's least cohesive and more traditional pop album to date. Long gone are the days of one man and his guitar, which he has now replaced by addictive beats, catchy choruses, and relatively heavy production. It's clear to see that with his claim this is his favourite album, that = was probably much of an interesting record to make than his previous. There's only so much you can do with one guitar, and he did everything pretty extensively in the first half of his career. However, it's undeniable that Ed Sheeran was good at what he did, the best in his game, whereas in the world of pop and heavy production, he's just...okay.
That's the thing about =. It's not fantastic, it's not bad, it's just fine. There was some difficulty in even producing this review because there were no strong thoughts that came to mind at all. There's no doubt there will be hits from the album, especially as both 'Bad Habits' and 'Shivers' already shot up the charts previous to its release, and with rumours, Taylor Swift will be featuring on a remix of 'The Joker and The Queen' there's no doubt that will be a winner too. But that's all it feels like it is. Ed Sheeran is a hitmaker, which is great for him and his record label, but despite the songs being more personal than ever on this album, it feels like this isn't really...him.
Sheeran at his most vulnerable is where this album shines. The ode to the chord progression of Tenerife Sea from X on the track 'Love In Slow Motion is sweet, and the thumping bass of Stop the Rain fits the energy of the song perfectly. There's no especially stand out songs, and no absolute drags either. Once again, they're all perfectly fine songs, but not really much more than that.
With so many excellent albums out this year and 30 from Adele on its way too, it won't be surprising if this album just sinks into the background. But, Ed Sheeran won't mind, as he had a good time making it and really that's all that matters to him.