It starts with the most middle-class “rap” imaginable. If you can even call it that. Where Stormzy is off topping the charts with a much-needed dose of British realism, on the other side of the spectrum is Mr Ed Sheeran, who offers his sanitised and appropriated version of things on Eraser.
For fans of Sheeran, Divide is likely to unite them in that it’s just another assortment of everything that made him famous in the first place. There are galloping pop tunes mixed with watery ballads that will have the masses queuing up to have it as their wedding song (Hearts Don’t Break Around Here).
The thing with Sheeran is that all the songs seem just plain obvious. The way Castle On The Hill progresses, the references it makes, it’s clear that Sheeran knows his audience and has no qualms in pandering to them. It’s the sort of stuff that is so easy to access even for just the fleeting listener that he’ll no doubt continue to fill stadia because of it.
Is it his worst album? Probably not, and songs like Shape Of You certainly help sell his potential as the star he aspires to be. But he’s never going to be pathbreaking, just sticking to the same old tropes that made him famous in the first place. And, as usual, it’s embarrassing when he breaks out and starts doing his ‘spoken word’ thing (Galway Girl, we’re looking at you).
Needless to say, we certainly deserve better pop stars than this. But it’s the sort of mediocrity that will sell by the bucket, as trite as the final track title Supermarket Flowers. It’s cheap, it’s right there in front of you, and no one will award you points for originality for presenting them.