Online editor Stephen Ong reviews Ed Sheeran’s latest album
Ed Sheeran’s rise to fame has been nothing short of extraordinary, going from an unsigned artist to an artist with three top five hits in 2011, before breaking numerous records with the release of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ in 2014. Just as extraordinary as that was the decline in quality of his music on ÷, which was a sign of what was to come on Sheeran’s fourth studio album, No. 6 Collaborations Project.
No. 6 Collaborations Project is neither a follow up to Sheeran’s 2011 EP No. 5 Collaborations Project nor ÷; instead it’s more akin to a DJ Khaled album. For all the flack ÷ gets, at least songs like ‘Eraser’ and the numerous ballads on the record had substance, something sorely missing on No. 6 Collaborations Project. Sheeran is a man who has built up a career on substance, singing about homelessness, prostitution and heartbreak with a soulful voice that was unlike anything on pop radio – and at this point in his career, it seems as though he’s abandoned this raw honesty.
at this point in his career, it seems as though he’s abandoned this raw honesty
That being said, No. 6 Collaborations Project is barely even an album. It’s not part of the Ed Sheeran mathematical canon of albums, and functions as a collaborative compilation rather than an actual cohesive album. It’s not an engaging listen, but to be fair to Sheeran, he has substantial input on each of the tracks, and doesn’t feel the need to proclaim that ‘we the best music’ at the start of each song. The songs themselves range from inoffensive (‘Cross Me’ is a decent song, but nothing more) to forgettable (‘Remember The Name’ comes 15 years too late to be a hit) to utter atrocities (the less said about ‘BLOW’, the better), but at least Ed Sheeran sounds like he’s having fun.
It’s fair to say that the quality of the album gradually declines – opening track ‘Beautiful People’ is a cute song for summer nights, halfway through the album is ‘Antidote’, Sheeran’s uninspiring recreation of ‘SICKO MODE’, and ten songs in is a vapid dance song with Ella Mai that has you wishing you’re back in a club at
Possibly the only engaging moment on the last 20 minutes of the album is the relatable line “Wetherspoon’s was an easy option / To get a cheaper lunch / And a £2 pint”
Perhaps that’s the appeal of Ed Sheeran – he has a great ear for a pop hook, but it’s the everyday relatability of his lyrics that wins over his diverse fanbase. A trend throughout the album is his inability to fit in, singing ‘don’t think I fit in at this party’ on lead single ‘I Don’t Care’, ‘we don’t fit in well because we are just ourselves’ on ‘Beautiful People’, and Sheeran questions “why the hell she
In short, No. 6 Collaborations Project isn’t meant to be listened to as an album, and the songs are probably best enjoyed in your playlist of this summer’s chill pop music. Ultimately, it’s a collection of throwaway pop songs that Ed Sheeran wrote with his musical mates for a laugh, and will have the unfortunate side effect of dominating every musical platform there is for the next year. Nonetheless, this appears to be a good sign for the eventual Subtract; with this project out of the way, Sheeran can focus on what will be a serious, and hopefully his best, effort yet.