On paper, Ed Sheeran makes no sense. He shambled into the spotlight in 2011 like a cross between Damien Rice and Craig David – an earnest acoustic singer-songwriter by day and a hook-provider for grime MCs by night. He’s a sentimental troubadour for the suburbanite 1Xtra crowd, wrapped in the clothes of a wannabe surfer kid circa 2003. As I said: no sense.
With ‘X’, Sheeran returns with a pinch of R&B sass, a pocket full of A-list producers and more diddly songs about how beautiful his girlfriend is without make-up on. Once again, he just about pulls it off.
The best tracks see Sheeran switch up the tempo, such as on the Pharrell-produced lead single, ‘Sing’, and ‘Don’t’ – a soul-enthused middle-finger to the cheating antics of a former high-profile fling.
The cloying, finger-picked ballads are still his bread and butter. But on this LP he drops the prosaic and teeny references to Blu-ray players and his beloved Nando’s to offer up full-blown romance – from telling his star-crossed love to keep a photo of them so they’ll be together always (‘Photograph’) to ruminations on the colour of his girl’s eyes (‘Tenerife Sea’). It’s a slight progression, but one that removes some of the guilt from anyone over the age of 16 who may find themselves singing along.
There’s enough awkward rapping and gooey-eyed sentiment here to put cynical listeners off their peri-peri chicken. But shored up by Sheeran’s nimble melodies and rhythmic guitar style, ‘X’ is a charm offensive that’s hard to resist. Nonsense never sounded so good.
What do you think of ‘X’? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.
Buy this album on Amazon | Buy this album on iTunes
Support Time Out
We see you’re using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue is Time Out’s main source of income. The content you’re reading is made by independent, expert local journalists.
Support Time Out directly today and help us champion the people and places which make the city tick. Cheers!Donate now