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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are releasing their third album in just four years. Following Up From Below and last year’s Here, this self-titled LP seems to be the quintessential Edward Sharpe album as it’s filled with enchanting melodies, various “unusual” instruments, the crooning voices of Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos, and lyrics that talk about life’s silver lining.
Their first album, Up From Below, was an introduction to the band’s whimsical sound. It is a sort of love letter from front man Alex Ebert to various people in his life – chronicling his relationships and certain feelings towards friends, family and lovers. Songs that are (obviously) dedicated to significant people such as “Jade” and “Brother” depict specific stories of love and loss.
Here, the band’s second album, is the Sharpe’s way of embracing their own music. With songs like “Man on Fire” and “I Don’t Wanna Pray,” they seem to say, “This is our music and we’re here to stay.” Although Here is the less-popular of their two released albums, it still establishes the band’s foundation of spiritual happiness through music.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros opens with the single “Better Days.” In this upbeat introduction to the album, the song vocalizes the band’s message of keeping a glass-half-full mentality. As Ebert exclaims, “we may still know sorrow/ but we got better days,” he calls upon the audience to maintain positivity and hope for a better tomorrow. This theme continues throughout the album.
As you progress through the LP, songs like “Let’s Get High” and “Please!” emphasize the importance of themes such as love and peace. Although simple, these words send a straightforward message emphasizing the importance of love. In these songs, a familiar Beatles-esque quality, mainly portraying a Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sound becomes present through psychedelic guitar chords, synthesized voices, and unusual and slightly comical noise effects.
The album takes a more serious turn with “Life is Hard,” “They Were Wrong,” and “This Life.” The melodies take on a somber tone with prominent drumbeats and slower violin strokes. The beats build until you expect a transition into a faster pace, but then take a breath right at their peak and settle back into their slower tempos. The lyrics portray life’s hardships, plainly stating the troubles and difficulties that life presents. But in true Edward Sharpe fashion, the bittersweet quality is sweetened as Ebert says that “Life is hard, come celebrate,” telling the listener to take the good with the bad.
In a press release for the new album, Ebert said that the twelve songs “mean everything to me. It’s the rawest, most liberated, most rambunctious stuff we’ve done.” This seems to ring true as each song stands out in one way or another. With lyrics that hold deeper meanings and unique melodies that carry the listener through an uplifting journey, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ self-titled album is both unexpected and wonderfully refreshing.