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by Ed Sheeran

Released October 29, 2021 via Asylum Records / Atlantic Records

Reviewed November 9, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Tides (34%), Visiting Hours (29%), The Joker And The Queen (20%)

For 49 minutes, through 14 tracks, Ed Sheeran delivers a beautiful performance on =. This album flips back and forth from making me want to dance and cry in the club. As a true vocalist, Ed maintains dominance over the mix. While this project is pop by nature, don’t let that deter you from enjoying its emotional substance. Sheeran’s not singing for the sake of it; he’s expressing heartbreak and celebrating love. That’s not to say it's a heartbreak album or a classic love story. It’s more of an “in the moment” theme. = doesn’t feel like a rom com movie, rather a television series. Every episode fits the overarching theme, but can be enjoyed separately for a similar effect. – Daniel (7.5/10)

On his fifth studio album, Ed Sheeran releases another venture into full-blown pop territory, which fails due to its lack of identity and how much it drags. There’s a genuineness to Sheeran’s lyrics and the emotion in his performance; like on “Visiting Hours,” where he battles with grief, or “Sandman,” where he talks about his love for his newborn daughter. Unfortunately, aside from those components, there’s not much to write about for Ed Sheeran’s contributions. Despite the vast amount of subgenres Sheeran dips his feet in (from synthpop to pop-soul to alt-pop), the album itself almost meshes together due to how basic and devoid of identity each individual effort is. It seems Sheeran is always trying to stick to a formula––either the formula that his more folk-oriented songs followed, or a formula that tries to emulate other musicians. From a critical and commercial standpoint, = makes it apparent that Sheeran’s best days are behind him. – Alan (4.5/10)

Ed Sheeran’s fourth installment of his mathematical calculation series, =, is an all too familiar album. Between The Weeknd rip-off lead single, “Bad Habits,” to the surface level physical imagination of heaven on “Visiting Hours,” Ed Sheeran phones in his laziest and least innovative project to date. Though this album will surely be haunting middle America wedding playlists for the next quarter century, there is nothing to write home about with this project. Known for his lyrical depth, Ed Sheeran fails to scratch even a tenth of the surface with =. Instead, it is a project full of cliché pop themes, with a mixture of acoustic and modern day pop soundscapes. = is the result of being comfortable with the assured success of being inoffensive to middle America soccer moms. – Pablo (2/10)

Daniel: 7.5/10 | Henny: 6/10 | DeVán: 5.5/10 | Dominick: 5.5/10 | Alan: 4.5/10

Cam: 4/10 | Hadley: 3.5/10 | Victoria: 3/10 | Pablo: 2/10 | Jared: 1.5/10


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