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“=” (Equals) by Ed Sheeran Album Review

A young and budding enthusiastic writer, and music lover with an eye for detail

"=" album cover

"=" album cover

Album Review

Only a few artists get to a point in their careers where they achieve most things they dreamed to accomplish in their careers. Ed Sheeran reflects on this on the track “First Times” as he recounts his dream of eighty thousand people singing along with him at Wembley stadium. “So what next?” is mostly the question in the minds of these artists as they seek out an extra source of motivation to forge on with their successful careers. For Ed Sheeran, releasing his fourth studio album =, which continues his usage of mathematical symbols for his album titles is the next step in further cementing his place as a pop icon.

Ed Sheeran expresses his thoughts through the eyes of a family man on this album and he wastes no time in letting us know of this as croons about this on the opening track of the album titled “Tides” which employs disjointed drum beats which gives a rock-punk feel and kind of makes for a grand entrance to the album. Consisting of fourteen tracks, = is a rollercoaster of an album that evokes different emotions in the listener throughout the entirety of the forty-eight minutes which the album spanned. I feel the album is filled with moments of brilliance coupled with some lackluster skips which I feel the album could have done without.

The major highlight of the album for me is the production Ed Sheeran employs on this album. Ever since he released his last studio album, Divide, the pop scene has evolved and it is good to see him adapt to the times. The fusion of EDM and electro-pop on “Be Right Now” which was produced by Fred made for quite the spectacular ending to the album which encapsulates the live-in-the-moment theme which the song was about. The use of 90s synths and 80s pop which evokes instant nostalgia similar to The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” on “Overpass Graffiti” is quite refreshing and it instantly made it one of my favourite tracks off the album. While some might bash the production for leaning towards making radio hits, it is probably this album’s strong suit.

Furthermore, Ed Sheeran’s songwriting was particularly brilliant on this album especially on tracks where he gets sentimental such as “Visiting Hours” which is a heartfelt tribute to his friend, Michael who recently passed away. Released as a single for the album, the ballad grips the heart of almost every listener. “First Times” lyric “ain’t it funny how the simplest things in life can make a man” is one line that gets to me every time I listen to it as I resonate with it a lot. That track is one of my favourites from the album although some might find it understandably corny due to it being a little bit non-realistic. “Overpass Graffiti” also fits into this category well due to its breakup theme.

On the flip side, = despite being probably Ed Sheeran’s most moving record contains some skips which the project could have done without. Tracks such as “Leave Your Life” and “Stop The Rain” weaken the replay value of the project for me and also makes the album less cohesive. “2step” gives memories of his earlier projects, however, the rapping is a huge turn-off for me although it’s a decent track under the right circumstances. While “Sandman” might be a sweet lullaby that might just put the young kids to sleep, it just feels out of place on the project

"Overpass Graffiti" official music video

Worth A Listen?

Yes, = contains some of Ed Sheeran’s most moving and personal songs which is geared towards making radio-friendly hits. Tracks such as “Bad Habits” and “Shivers” exemplifies this as they are chart-topping hits on the Billboard 100. While the songwriting at times might lack detail, his ability to juggle between making radio friendly hits while leaning towards sentimental writing is something quite remarkable. While the album might have some skips and is not one that fits into every occasion probably due to it being an eclectic record, it is still a decent body of work deserving of the attention it is getting.

You can purchase the album from Amazon here - Equals

Essential Tracks

  • “Visiting hours”
  • “Collide”
  • “First Times”

Rating

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Fawaz Akintunde

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