wed 24/07/2024

Album: Ed Sheeran - Autumn Variations | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Ed Sheeran - Autumn Variations

Album: Ed Sheeran - Autumn Variations

Interesting moments are too far and few between in the popular singer-songwriter's latest

Towering drums, seering and furious guitars, vocals that are powerful and often throat-scorching; metal, hard rock, and all their intertwining sub-genres are by far the ones that fit most naturally for this writer. It may be a surprise then to be reviewing Ed Sheeran’s latest. But it’s also impossible to deny when a melody catches just right, and races round and round for days on end.

In addition, this is Sheeran’s first full length record not graced with a maths symbol as its name. Instead, Sheeran took inspiration from Elgar's Enigma Variations, a series of 14 musical portraits of the composer's friends and relations. And so, as an outsider looking in it was a curious proposition to peek in and discover how different this would be.

What’s immediately apparent, even to someone far from a regular Ed Sheeran listener, is that there is a vibe throughout which is reminiscent of when he first broke on to the scene: multi-layered percussion evokes his earlier use of looping pedals, and a heavy presence of acoustic guitars returns. But there still remains the sickly sweet pop sheen that Ed has honed as his career has progressed.

Opener “Magical” pulses with a simple 1-2 kick-drum and snare pattern under rustic, acoustic strings. “This is magical; is this how it feels to be in love?” he ponders while doing his best impression of any other mainstream hit of the last decade.

While Autumn Variations may sound like it promises newness and change, it instead delivers like a careful revisiting of elements that Ed had seemed to move beyond. For every relatively charming, yet standard pop jaunt like “Plastic Bag”, or upbeat “That’s On Me”; there is an “England”, which approaches the territory of his 2017 hit “Castle On The Hill”.

Overall, to these ears at least, its interesting moments – such as “Page”, where Ed addresses struggles with writers block, the warming optimism of “Spring”, or “Punchline” which builds to an easy, blues rock finale – are too few and far between. In the end, Autumn Variations lacks the nuance or excitement to make this worth revisiting for a newcomer, but it will certainly go down well with his regulars.

Autumn Variations lacks the nuance or excitement to make this worth revisiting for a newcomer, but it will certainly go down well with his regulars


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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