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Michael Teckman reviews Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ latest album: Rough Trade

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros hold a very special place in my heart. They are responsible for the greatest gig I have ever attended (and probably the greatest I ever shall attend), during the tour for ‘Up From Below’ in the Old Vic Tunnels. It was magical. I cried. Let’s move on to the new album…

A lot has changed in Ed Sharpe-world since ‘Up From Below’. Chief songwriter and Ed Sharpe visionary, Alexander Ebert, has broken up with his beau and bandmate, Jade Castrinos.

They seem to be playing by the Fleetwood Mac rules for relationships in the workplace as she’s still in the band, but is the chemistry that forged such childishly pure love songs as ‘Home’ still there? The answer is… erm, sort of.

For the most part, the subject matter has gone in a very different direction, tackling issues like faith and heartbreak. The songs have a real bluegrass spontaneity about them, which couples soulful vocals and gospel bass lines to give the album a very religious feel.

My only issues with ‘Here’ arise on songs like ‘That’s What’s Up’, when they try to re-create the struck-dumb-with-love songs of yester-album. It feels a bit forced and hackneyed.

This said, considering it’s a pseudo-religious album that mixes break-up blues, musings on faith and love songs; ‘Here’ isn’t going to be leaving my stereo for a while.


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