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  • Writer's pictureRyan ANTIART

ALBUM REVIEW: Ed Sheeran, =

Grade: F-

Ok, I know we have a lot of Swifties in the audience that didn’t take kindly to my criticism about her re-releasing her sophomore album and begging her fans to buy the new version. We lost like 60 of your motherfuckers in one day, it was kind of baffling. I assumed that in our niche little alt music community, dunking on someone as popular as Taylor Swift would be an easy feat with little to no repercussions. I do not apologize to the cowards who jumped ship, we don’t need you anyway. However, to the remaining stans in the audience, I’d like to offer you an olive branch. Think of this as the Fast and Furious series, where Taylor is The Rock and we are Vin Diesel. Sure, we may not get along and the director has to awkwardly shoot us twice and splice together the footage so it appears that we are buds, but at least we can team up. Ed Sheeran is the Fast villain that we have to stick together to actively fight against, he doesn’t stand for “family” in the same way we do, he is Charlize Theron. While Taylor is generic and essentially praises her own work as modern classics, at the very least I can say she has a few undeniable jams. Chartwise, Ed Sheeran arguably has more than her, but they are forcibly stuck in our heads like the “Island Boys” song, we don’t want them there but yet, they will never go away. We need to come together and stop Ed Sheeran, for all that is good and holy.

Pop Sucks Part 2 (titled “Whole Lotta Ed”) did a sufficient job at completely shitting on his entire career from his birth to his single “Bad Habits”, so I’ll keep everything strictly in the context of his new album, which is one of the worst bodies of work I have heard in the last five years. At this moment in time, Ed Sheeran is stuck in a paradox. On one hand, he has tons of major sponsors, record executives and fans in his ear going “write a song that sounds like Dua Lipa” or “Ed, you want to be in that Doritos commercial don’t you? Then we need some EDM!” That results in songs that have lyrics about staying out and having a good time, the most general statements that could be applicable to any situation ever. He is essentially a wedding music factory at this point as well after writing “Perfect” and “Shape of You”. It is required that he not only has a minimum of two songs about growing older with someone, but he also needs to make dance music for the reception. So that fills up about 5 or 6 slots on the record as is, and all that music is utter waste. On the other hand, he has been so pummeled with horrible influences and bad trends that his personal taste has been greatly affected as well. When he chooses to write a song that is deeply personal or has lyrics that are pointed and specific, these songs are arguably much worse. When left to his own devices, we get such solid gold lyricism as “We've ordered pizza to an aeroplane” and “been to an Irish bar in Central Rome”.

I’m going to dismantle each song one by one, but the general theme of this review is that like Eminem, he is a white guy with tragically bad taste. He can play guitar really well, he used to do that shit on tour where he’d loop the tracks with effects pedals, that’s cool and probably makes for a cool show. But the music that is being looped and warped now sucks my dick, which makes it all the more sad in my opinion.

“Tides” is an opener that reminds me of that new Imagine Dragons record. Stadium rock guitars and passionate vocals attempt to trick us into thinking that this will be a pure rock album. Coupled with the knock off Bon Iver auto-tuned background vocals, Ed Sheeran is being safely artistic, painting in the lines of a sound that is assured to work out with no experimentation on his end. While I don’t like “Tides” by any means, it’s probably the least bad song on the album. “Shivers”, on the other hand, just sounds like a “Among Us x Bad Habits” mashup. Is this song a joke, are we a joke to you Ed? Also, why must you continue to be horny on wax, talking about “wrap me up between your legs and arms”, no dude, we don’t need that. This is one of many songs on this album that is full of tropes, ex: “Take my heart”, “I can’t get enough”, “I wanna kiss you right”, “I wanna stay up all day and all night”, “I love it when you do it like that”, “Dancing underneath the stars”, the song is essentially a house of cards made of lines people wrote a long time ago. I think the most jarring part of this album is how he genre hops and just takes on a brand new persona with each song, as if the song before didn’t exist. To have one of those aforementioned slow wedding songs (“First Times”) be right in between the two EDM “bangers” on the album just makes absolutely no fucking sense. Also, “First Times” is full of tropes too, here are a few “I still feel butterflies”, “I can’t wait to make a million more first times”, “The simplest things in life can make a man”. This is music for people who want to hear the same exact song until they die of old age. Actually, maybe Taylor fans would like this. Just kidding!...Lest… Nah but I hate how broad and obtuse he keeps his writing so that it will emotionally impact as many people as possible while saying absolutely nothing.

Gonna skip “Bad Habits”, that song is really funny though, it smells like farts and cologne. “Overpass Graffiti”, “Stop The Rain” and “Be Right Now” are all Ed-ua Lipa songs. Of fucking course he would come a year late to the ‘80s trend, why would you expect him to show up early to anything? That would take a degree of creativity and foresight that Ed doesn’t have time for. “Overpass Graffiti” is just Blinding Lights if it had no good vocals, bad drum machines and no real point other than to just exist. At this point in the record, it’s obvious that this album will be a year of music listening for many people. Why would you listen to ‘80s music, Lil Baby, ‘00s throwback rock, PinkPantheress, or anything else with an original sound if it’s all on “=”? Also, “We'll never fade like graffiti on the overpass” is a very bad simile. Speaking of laughable metaphors, Ed writes another wedding song, but this time, love is like a game of cards! “You could fall for a thousand KINGS/And HEARTS/That would give you a DIAMOND ring...You see the best in me, the JOKER and the QUEEN”. So many great things about those lines, voluntarily calling himself an incel (aka the Joker) is my favorite. I love how this bastard throws in strings at the end, bitch you don’t fucking deserve them. You didn’t get us any point emotionally, unless you count laughing in your face to be an emotion.

As if to remind us that he will be a fixture in pop music until an act of God takes his singing voice away, “Leave Your Life” is a hidden taunt. “I’m never gonna leave your life” has got to be the scariest and most sobering lyric of 2021. No matter what grocery store, mall, Spotify playlist, etc. you go to, his ass will be there watching you, probably raising a glass of Guiness, the worst beer of all time (no offense to the Irish love y’all). “Collide” is the second worst song on the record, hands down. That’s the one with the pizza airplane line, but also “shared a toothbrush and shared a home” makes me want to vomit. In the immortal words of Rick James, “buy another one you rich mothafucka”. He is not only stealing the PinkPantheress vibe on this one, but he works in these hideous bugle horns to start off the track too. Lyrically this is Ed Sheeran at his absolute low point, actually “Sandman '' is the lowest but I’ll get to that in a minute. On top of all this, he also stole the song “Collide” by Howie Day and just repurposed it. Tell me these are different songs, I dare you. They are the same fucking song. “2step” is acoustic trap a la DaBaby “Rockstar” or Lil Baby “Drip 2 Hard”, HE IS SO FUCKING LATE TO EVERY TREND I CANNOT STAND HIS ASS BRO. He tries to show off his rap skills but ends up falling flat, “'Cause we're living life at a different pace, stuck in a constant race/Keep the pressure on, you're bound to break/Something's got to change'' is rapped fast so that we don’t think about how empty it all is. Fuck Ed Sheeran I hate him and his gentrified music. He is like The Beatles in two ways: he is British and loves to steal from more talented black people. Enough with this man, to the garbage disposal with you.

“Love In Slow Motion”, another wedding song, is also one of the biggest eye-rolls upon first listen. Bad songwriting examples: “Live in fast forward but not tonight”, “It’s been a while”, “Chasing the moment, I’m hoping is coming”, “Baby let’s slow down time, baby just press rewind”, “I wanna love tonight”. No wonder he keeps using math symbols for all his covers, it’s all a giant formula that = shit. “Visiting Hours” is another personal song; out of respect for Ed’s friend who passed, I'm going to go easy on this one. Just want to say, I doubt that his friend Michael taught him “everything” he knows, I really dislike hyperbolic stuff like that. I hate the choral vocals on the song too, ok enough. “Sandman” actually might be the worst song he has ever made. Again, it is personal, specific and the sentiment is there, but the songwriting FUCKING SUCKS MY DICK. I could list out all those tropes, which this one has a lot, but it’s the non-tropey things he says that really grind my gears. All I have to do is copy and paste the second verse, “Chocolate-covered roof and candy cars/Rainbow sugar river we can sail upon/Marshmallow books and strawberries/Snowmen made of ice cream/Over the flower fields, we'll fly/We'll count the fish in the sky”. If Ed Sheeran was my father, I’d file for emancipation at whatever age I gained consciousness. I have nothing else to say about this album, F-. This is still AntiArt, and POP SUCKS, still. Bye.

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