Busker-turned-pop superstar Ed Sheeran has spent years touring extensively with Taylor Swift, and the pairing couldn’t have been more fitting. On the English singer’s 2011 breakout “+,” Sheeran’s songs seemed tailor-made for teenage lovers—they sound like the artist’s audio journal entries about the hardships of breakups. This kind of music isn’t always a bad thing, but I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking Sheeran would benefit from turning down the quantity of cheesiness, no matter how marketable it might be.
Believe it or not, he actually raps on many of the songs, including the eerie “Take It Back,” on which he questionably says, “I’m not a rapper, I’m a singer with a flow.” Unfortunately, Sheeran—who has previously showcased his talent performing with Lupe Fiasco and writing for One Direction and Swift—doesn’t entirely take to his new clothes. Between Rick Rubin-produced ballads (“Photograph”) and cheesy sing-alongs (“Afire Love”), this album is packed with groaners he should grow out of on his next record.
“X” remains a step in the right direction for Sheeran. But I’d prefer to hear him leap.
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