Album: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, ES&TMZ (Gentlemen of the Road)
The first non-Mumford record to be released on that band’s own record label brings to mind the quote about the US and the UK being two nations divided by a common language.
Mention the Mumfords there, and people think “fun, folky British boys with lots of energy”. Mention them here, and the most likely reaction will be “trust-fund Wurzels”.
Putting that to one side, this is the third album by the LA musical outfit led by Alexander Ebert and, as with the previous two, it’s a collection of songs every bit as raggle-taggle as the musicians playing them.
Which is sort of the point. Because in a day and age when pretty much anyone can grab a laptop and make music that sounds mannered and precise, the chaos and spirit of the Zeros’ folk-rock-soul-whatevs is a welcome counterpoint to anyone not looking for consistency and cohesion.
There are great songs here (“Let’s Get High” and “Better Days” are another two for the greatest misses), but there’s also self-indulgence and cod philosophy. Worse, as usual, Jade Castrinos’s electrifying voice is a criminally undervalued asset.
Brilliant, frustrating, thrilling and irritating. In other words, exactly what we’ve come to expect from an Edward Sharpe album.
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