Ed Sheeran's third album 'Divide' does exactly that

Pop's nice guy has returned after a social media blackout and some serious soul searching and no doubt a reflection at his dizzying ascent. 

From sofa-surfing to selling out three nights at Wembley, an eye watering 240,000 tickets, that's roughly a third of the population of his hometown Suffolk. It's fair to say then in his relatively lengthy career Ed Sheeran has built a pretty credible fanbase.

Third album 'Divide' documents the travels that took place in the lengthy hiatus after his previous album 'Multiply'. Opener 'Eraser' has a swaggering Spanish vibe as Sheeran addresses the difficulties of his position singing: "Money is the root of all evil and fame is hell."

'Shape Of You' almost went to Rihanna, however Sheeran decided to keep the track for himself. Bordering on being a Dancehall track it sees Sheeran brimming with confidence as he sings about lusting for someone in a club.

It's a case of so near and so far though, after he performed it live at The Brits with Stormzy you can't help but feel that the studio version is begging for a rapper to give it that extra edge. Instead we're left with Sheeran going solo and his charm and strut sadly only go so far.

The album hops across the globe yet again for 'Galway Girl', it's as big a risk as Ed Sheeran is capable of but taking it pays off. A pop track with a fiddle section and an Irish band is just so ridiculous that you can't help but completely fall in love with it. 

'Bibia Be Ye Ye' takes the listener completely by surprise. Recorded in Ghana, it sees Sheeran again in unchartered waters. Sheeran appears to be having a world of fun over a pinging guitar riff later partnered with some uplifting backing vocals. 

'New Man' is the biggest grower of the record, Sheeran lays into an ex's new fella with bottle rap like lyrics. I nearly spat out my tea hearing: "He's got his eyebrows plucked and his arsehole bleached, owns every single Ministry CD". Fair play Ed, fair play.

There are some seriously bad tracks though. 'Castle On The Hill' sees Sheeran go full on David Brent as he gets nostalgic about his home town. Lyrically 'Divide' is riddled with cliches and wince inducing lines that are so clearly there to make the record feel familiar and relatable. 

'What Do I Know?' has a nice sentiment but Sheeran's sickly sweet view of being able to fix the world with love and a guitar makes him sound like a kids TV presenter.

Currently the bookies second favourite to headline Glastonbury this year; it's clear Sheeran appeals to the masses but this sadly leads to a painfully diluted album. A lack of features and the only real musical progression being cherry picking the odd bit of world music as inspiration for a song leaves me feeling a bit short changed.

Words Jack Winstanley

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