Music Radar: – Album Review


Courtesy of Asylum and Atlantic Records–Fair Use

Ed Sheeran’s new album – is better than his previous work but still not great.

I have to get this out of the way right away, I do not like Ed Sheeran. I find his music some of the most safe, boring, and corporate pop on radio stations and playlists. When I saw that his new album Subtract (stylized as -) was the biggest release of the week, my day was ruined because I knew I wouldn’t like this album. My sadness did not last long though because I knew I would be able to do my first negative review on music radar. Did Ed Sheeran continue his streak of terrible music? Let’s find out.

– opens with the second single, “Boat,” a simple acoustic folk song that sounds straight out of the early career of Sheeran. It’s alright, nothing special, but that is the best we can hope for. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the stripped back acoustic sound for -, which was something that hasn’t been apparent since the release of X close to a decade ago.

That seems to be a theme on the record because most of the songs here are folk pop tinged. This is my first major issue with the album though, because of the 14 tracks featured, Sheeran does almost nothing differently between them. Each song sounds very similar with the same melodramatic formula that he has been riding on since the astounding success of “thinking out loud” back in 2014.

The song “Dusty” was doomed from the start. I heard the trap hi-hats that introduce the song and my soul was immediately shattered. I have no idea why Sheeran thought it would be a good idea to mix his bland and soulless musical ethos with a very bland and soulless trap beat but he did.

The track “Eyes Closed” was also a struggle to get through. The song starts off well enough, but the chorus is atrocious. There is this 808 bass that just pounds at the side of my skull and gives a headache. It is so loud in the mix I have no idea how that got past the dozens of people that were quality controlling the album.

As much as I have ripped this album to shreds, I have to say that this is the best body of work Ed Sheeran has released in quite a while. I like the lyric writing on songs like “Boat” and … maybe some other songs. I also have to give credit to him for not going in the pop direction again because that was a dumpster fire from start to finish. Overall this album was bad but God, it could have been worse. This album gives me a glimmer of hope that Ed will not release trash next time, but for now, – gets a 4/10.