After taking a year long reprieve from social media, Ed Sheeran resurfaced with an album worth the wait. Divide, Sheeran’s junior album, has amassed him extreme success, quickly becoming the fastest selling album by a male artist ever.
The album’s singles, “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” both contributed to the buzz around Sheeran’s third project, with “Shape of You” remaining at number one on the Billboard 100 Chart for the fifth consecutive week, and becoming the most played song in the history of the U.S. Top 40. Both music videos for these singles have received millions of views and praise by the public. The clear cinematography and stunning images of the English countryside in “Castle on the Hill” create the perfect atmosphere for a song about coming home.
Although these singles are both good songs, they are nothing exceptional. It is clear they were developed with the intent of playing on the radio, and appealing to those who listen to common-pop. “Castle on the Hill” lends itself to driving along the coast with your windows down, while “Shape of You” is more fitting for a party or club. The heart-wrenching stories Sheeran normally tells are somewhat lacking in these songs, yet “Castle on the Hill” is better at providing content behind context.
The true beauty in Sheeran’s album lies in his mastered musicality. All genres of music are explored, giving the listener the feeling of traveling the world, through vivid images of each country, and the tastes of Irish beer or Spanish paella. “Nancy Mulligan” tells the love story of Sheeran’s parents in a light hearted Irish jig, with multiple violin solos, bringing in instruments that aren’t usually associated with modern pop music. “Barcelona” is a dance song that gives the atmosphere of exploring the streets of a spanish village with a lover, while skipping all the way down the streets. “Bibia Be Ye Ye” gives an African vibe, making the listener feel as though they are traveling through a safari in a jeep.
As both a musician and a storyteller, Sheeran knows how to evoke emotion from his listeners, and causes them to truly embody experiences they may have never had. “Supermarket Flowers” depicts the death of Sheeran’s grandmother from the perspective of his mother, discussing every detail from the changes in home decor to the feelings of extreme loss. “Happier” pulls on the heartstrings, relating to so many who yearn to re-explore a past relationship, yet realize the other person is better off without them.
However, Sheeran also knows how to create pure joy within listeners through songs such as “New Man” which pokes fun at an ex’s new lover, and “Perfect” which serenades a lover in a beautiful,refreshing way.
Clearly Sheeran has divided his album to fit the musical preferences of all, and is becoming extremely successful for doing so. Although this album is not his best yet, it leaves listeners longing for more albums, and leaves room for Sheeran to reach his pinnacle.