Since their brilliantly received debut ‘Up From Below‘, it seems as though Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros have experienced a re-birth. Listeners were initially drawn into their happy-go-lucky charm, especially with the like of hit single ‘Home. Second album ‘Here‘ was jam-packed with religious and spiritual references which saw lead singer/songwriter Alex Ebert take on some kind of messiah like figure. This fresh period of their journey has lead Ebert himself to describe their new, self-titled album as ‘the rawest, most liberated, most rambunctious stuff we’ve done.’  However, this time it’s hard to be sure whether we’re all truly convinced…

Like ‘Here, their new album bares the similar theme of ecstatic joy, not apparent on just one specific track, or even a handful. The entire album is one long festival of happiness (How disgusting – Ed). In many ways you have to wonder whether this is all sincere, but regardless, it’s not easy listening to such a one-trick pony of a record. There are a few glimpses of downtime, in particular ‘This Life’, with even that proving to be lackluster and ordinary.

Again, it’s hard not to mention the song that arguably created their buzz, ‘Home. It sadly seems as though Edward Sharpe & Co cannot match the roaring success of this single, leaving their third record to feel a little contrived. An even bigger disappointment is how far away they’ve drifted from their ‘Up From Below‘ sound, a time when they managed to capture real moments of beauty on an album with not a single weak song.

The real song highlights are ‘Better Days’ and ‘Let’s Get High’, the first two tracks on the album. They’re both equally as catchy, making them enough to remember without having to persuade the listener. However their nostalgic folk/hippy sound is almost on its last legs, becoming cringe-worthy and artificial, especially as only a small number of new bands can recapture a nostalgic era of music quite the way they could, but sadly it seems as though this gift has been lost somewhere.

This release is unfortunately no more than a very slightly polished version of ‘Here‘. You’d also think with ten plus band members they’d be able to conjure up something fresh and inspiring. It really seems as though Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros have seen ‘Better Daysthemselves right now.


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