‘X’ (or ‘Multiply’) is the highly anticipated second album by singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran. Writing a follow-up album, which would match the standards of his brilliant debut ‘+’/’Plus’, promised to be a difficult task, but Ed has managed to do just that. The new album was worth the three year wait; it seems that Ed took that time to ensure that it would be the best it could possibly be. In an interview with Sugarscape he even described it as some of the best songs he’s ever done, as well as the best production he’s ever had.
The 17 track album has a strong beginning; it includes ‘Don’t’, ‘One’ and ‘Sing’, all released as singles before the album was officially released. With it’s more upbeat tempo and Ed Sheeran’s falsetto, ‘Sing’ is really a track that stands out. It is one of the two tracks on the album produced by Pharrell Williams and is an overall new and fresher sound for Ed Sheeran. It’s is really no surprise that it landed Ed his first ever number 1 single in the UK.
Other tracks that stand out include the songs ‘Afire Love’ and ‘Runaway’. The beautiful ‘Afire Love’ will tug at the heartstrings as Ed writes and sings about a death in the family. The songs could easily be mistaken for a love song if you pay attention only to the chorus, but as a lyrical genius, a whole story is told across through the song.
‘Runaway’ is the other song produced by Pharrell; it strays from the typical topic of love as Sheeran sings about running away from home. It’s one of those tracks that a lot of people will relate to, especially among Ed’s younger fans perhaps. It is a unique song with the perfect demonstration of honesty that Ed puts into his work.
This honesty was what brought Ed into the public eye in the first place. ‘The A Team’, one of his first hits, tells the story of a prostitute who also had a drug addiction. This representation of real issues continues into his second album, particularly in the songs ‘Bloodstream’ and ‘The Man’ which both mention illegal drug use and alcoholism. The subject is most apparent in ‘Bloodstream’ with the lyrics “fading out again I feel the chemicals burn in my bloodstream” but possibly the most affective lyrics can be heard in ‘The Man’; “I’m frightened to think if I depend on cider and drink and lighting a spliff I fall into a spiral and it’s just hiding my misguiding thoughts that I’m trying to kill and I’ll be writing my will before I’m 27”. The brutal honesty and power behind his songs are really what makes Ed Sheeran one of the best.
Other songs are focused on love, whether talking about it uncertainly such as in ‘Shirtsleeves’ and ‘The Man’ or definitely like in ‘Tenerife Sea’ and ‘Thinking out loud’. ‘Tenerife Sea’ holds no uncertainty about love in it’s lyrics, “I want you to know it’s enough for me // Cuz all that you are is all that I’ll ever need” which is followed by a string of “So in love”, which makes up the chorus. This love song is one of the strongest and sweetest songs on the album (and not just because my name is mentioned at the end… “And in the moment I knew you, Beth”).
In an interview Ed revealed that the track ‘Thinking Out Loud’ is his favourite song off the album. Describing eternal love in a beautiful song, it includes lyrics such as “Darling I will be loving you till we’re 70 // Well me, I fall in love with you every single day”. I’d have to agree with Ed here and say it is probably my favourite off the album too. It is one of the more stripped back tracks on the album, along with ‘Photograph’, and it really shows off his vocal talent. Beautiful song!
Apparently singing and songwriting are not Ed’s only talents as he also raps on ‘Take It Back’. Although this showcases more of his talents, it’s not a personal favourite of mine off the album.
The deluxe album version finishes with the track ‘All Of The Stars’, bringing the slower tempo second half of the album to an end. It was written to appear on the soundtrack of the teenage cancer love story The Fault In Our Stars, easily making it one of the most emotional songs on the album. Just a sample of some of the beautiful lyrics in the song: “and I know these scars will bleed // but both of our hearts believe // all of these stars will guide us home.”
(If you’re debating which version of the album to get, I would definitely recommend the deluxe, with the 5 extra tracks as they each bring something extra to the album.)
I have no doubt that this album will follow in the footsteps of it predecessor and remain in the album charts for a very long time. It has already beat the record set by Coldplays ‘Ghost Stories’ as the fastest selling album of 2014. With 182,000 sales in the first week, I think it’s fair to say that Ed Sheeran has made a very impressive comeback.