From the very first song, I knew ÷ (pronounced “Divide”) by Ed Sheeran would be on my list of albums of the year.
“Eraser” blends acoustic pop, hip hop, and hard-hitting lyrics blissfully. Song two “Castle on the Hill” will have you tapping your foot before Sheeran’s voice even starts singing. That said, it’s also one of my least favorite on the record. I like it in relation to being apart of Divide as a whole, but on it’s own I get slightly bored. “Shape of You” has been stuck in my head since it’s release. It’s marimba-based beat provides this fun, summery, new-love feel to the song, matching the lyrics perfectly. Following, “Perfect,” slows the album down a notch and can make anyone feel as if they’ve just fallen in love. The first of two irish-influenced songs on the record, “Galway Girl” is an upbeat, fast-paced song that makes you want to dance. “Happier” talks of a recently ended relationship that pulls at the heart strings. After comes “New Man,” describing an ex’s new boyfriend as a fuckboy stereotype, “He wears sunglasses indoors, in winter, at nighttime and every time a rap song comes on, he makes a gang sign.” Later in the album, “What Do I Know?” is a feel-good song, talking of changing the world peacefully. “Supermarket Flowers” is a tearjerker about the death of Sheeran’s grandmother from his mother’s perspective. In a sudden change of mood, “Barcelona” is a Spanish-influenced dance song. The second to last song is also the second irish-influenced track. “Nancy Mulligan” tells the Romeo and Juliet-esque tale of Sheeran’s grandparents from his grandfather’s perspective. “Save Myself” is the final and most-often overlooked song on the record. It’s a song about giving your all to help someone else, until you’re worn all the way down and it’s a song about needing to help yourself before you help others. The track closes Divide with about 17 seconds of silence, but I always find myself staring blankly, listening to the silence, letting it envelope me as I think about life for much longer. Each time I finish listening to this album from front to back I feel like I’ve grown as a person. I like that feeling from an album.
Overall: Divide is an absolutely breathtaking experience, front-to-back. I’m only hesitant on some of the odd choices for song order.
Review by Shane Haley