Ed Sheeran’s hiatus came to an end this New Year’s Day, when he announced that he would be releasing new music in the next few months. His highly anticipated third album came out March 3 – much to the excitement of his fans – and for the most part, it was worth the three-year wait. Sticking with mathematical titles, “÷” (pronounced “Divide”) gives listeners a taste of his previous music while also experimenting with some new sounds.
“Happier” and “New Man” are breakup songs if there ever were any, while pre-album singles “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You” are pop anthems made for the radio.
Sheeran didn’t have any boundaries with his musical sound, either. He starts the album off rapping on “Eraser,” but later on in the tracklist is “Supermarket Flowers” – one of the strongest songs of them all – a sweet piano ballad in memory of a grandparent.
Almost every song on the album will get stuck in your head, including the ones on the bonus track version. One that really stands out is “Nancy Mulligan,” an Irish-inspired story about Sheeran’s grandparents’ love story. It’s not the only one that features a jig either – “Galway Girl” has a fun rhyming hook that will surely be blasting from many speakers on St. Patrick’s Day this year.
One of Sheeran’s biggest hits from his last album, “Thinking Out Loud,” seems to have found a sibling melody in “Perfect,” a love song that is seemingly tailor-made for a first dance at a wedding. It’s a great song and the lyrics are beautiful, but it also sounds too similar to his other material to be one of the best songs on the new album. “Dive” slightly outdoes it; being more creative and allowing Sheeran a chance to stretch his voice to its limits gives him a more gritty sound than most are used to hearing from him.
“What Do I Know?” is a simple stripped down song that isn’t nearly on par lyrically with the rest of the album, but can still be fun to listen to if you’re looking for a catchy beat. And for some entertaining language, listen to the very British Sheeran sing in Spanish on “Barcelona.”
“÷” is a successful return to the music industry for Ed Sheeran, who has faced criticism for becoming too pop-based in the past. The new album definitely carries some of that pop influence, but it is also a good mix of the acoustic singer-songwriter style that many fans fell in love with in the first place with a completely new sound unique to this era of his career.