Album Review: X (Multiply) // Ed Sheeran
Similar to my review of Coldplay’s Ghost Stories, this review of Ed Sheeran’s sophomore album, X (pronounced Multiply), is coming two weeks after it’s release because I needed this time to get over the overwhelming emotions attached to this album. X is pure genius.
Ed takes all of the tricks that allowed him to burrow into the hearts of millions with his previous effort, + (Plus), and marries them with his new knowledge and experience with the world to create a product that turned out better than anyone could have hoped for. His talent for weaving words into lyrics that strike chords deep within is on full display on every track, and his tendency to write songs that break your heart is still quite apparent. His time on tour with Taylor Swift has clearly given him the courage to be a little bolder seeing as songs such as “Nina” (if I could use a heart eye emoji here, I would. “Nina” is SO GOOD) are a lot more “hey this song is about you” than tracks from his first album like “U.N.I.,” and the addition of instruments like drums and violins makes the album’s sound so much richer and bigger.
Ed is like that prodigal player your favorite football team drafted before he even finished college. The talent has been there since the beginning of the journey, but as he hones his skill and learns exactly what he can do with what he’s been given, the magic intensifies. + will always hold a special place in my heart, but X is on a whole new level of amazing. If Ed keeps up this type of progression, he’ll own the world someday soon.
One final note: Ed takes a deep breath at the beginning of the first track on the record and you might want to follow his lead. You’re in for an emotional rollercoaster of true brilliance.
Songs such as “One,” “I’m a Mess,” “Nina,” “Photograph,” “Runaway,” “Thinking Out Loud,” “Take It Back,” “Shirtsleeves” all fall into the category of “this is exactly what you’d expect from a second album of Ed’s.” The sounds and vibes are that of what you’re used to from + but they’ve all got those touches of lessons and ideas he has picked up in the two and a half years since he first debuted in the mainstream.
“Sing” – As the first single off this album, this track introduced a new idea of what Ed Sheeran music is. Though still very Ed, Pharrell’s influence is heavily felt and it definitely feels like a //new sound//. It sets the stage for the vibes of songs like “Runaway” and “Take It Back.”
“Don’t” – Many people think this song is the product of hanging out with Taylor Swift for many months but if you’ve really listened to Ed’s stuff you’d notice that this kind of song isn’t out of the blue. Ed clears his conscience through song so this diss at a cheating ex isn’t unexpected – it’s just a little bolder than you may have expected. Then again – there’s a track from his debut album titled “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” so maybe we should have seen this coming.
“Bloodstream” – Within the first five seconds, I decided I loved this song. There are tracks that are “quintessential Ed” and then there are tracks like “Bloodstream.” Unlike most of his songs, this is not quite lyric driven – though they’re still brilliant – but rather grove oriented. The repetitive guitar lick will be what sticks with you from this one.
“Tenerife Sea” – My short hand notes from the first time I heard this song should be enough to explain why you need to listen to this song. All I said was: F**k you Ed; Kiss Me round two; the guitar is so good it makes me want to punch things.
“The Man” – This heartbreaking evidence of catharsis suggests American Blues influence while the honesty is overwhelming.
“Afire Love” – If you’re looking for the poster child for what this album is, listen to “Afire Love.” While Ed’s knack for storytelling lies at the heart of the song, the added instruments and more mature sound prove that had he written this for + it would have been wonderful, but it wouldn’t quite have the magic that makes this track my favorite on the album.
“Even My Dad Does Sometimes” – This song simultaneously broke me while reminding me why Ed Sheeran is one of my favorite artists making music these days.
“I See Fire” and “All Of The Stars” are both tracks written for films (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Fault in Our Stars respectively), and as a fan of both franchises, I can confirm that though both are drastically different stories, Ed managed to write exactly the kind of song a fan would hope for to represent such beloved stories. These songs simply reinforce his reputation of genius.