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Released: 2017

Label: Atlantic Records UK

Step into the melodious wonderland of ‘÷’, the standout album by pop savant Ed Sheeran. Released in 2017 and distributed under the banner of Atlantic Records UK, the album is a trove of hits that resonates with Sheeran’s earnest storytelling and lyrical craftsmanship. This album marked a pinnacle in Sheeran’s oeuvre, offering a bold palette of genre-blending tunes that solidified his status in the pop realm – from cross-genre ballads like ‘Shape of You’ to the folk-pop ode ‘Galway Girl’ and the emotive ‘Supermarket Flowers’.

The beauty of ‘÷’ lies in the gamut of musical and lyrical diversity portrayed by this Brit maestro. Across 16 tracks, Sheeran shifts between acoustic sentimentality, buoyant pop, and folk-infused hits without missing a beat – a testament to his musical versatility. ‘Dive’ and ‘New Man’ take listeners on an introspective journey with heartfelt confessions, while ‘Nancy Mulligan’ and ‘Bibia Be Ye Ye’ bristle with cultural narratives that underline Sheeran’s embrace of worldwide influences.

With ‘÷’, Sheeran nudges pop music in a refreshing direction without compromising his signature charm, proving that pop can be as boundary-pushing as it is catchy. So let’s get into it. From ‘Eraser’ to ‘Save Myself’, here we are breaking down the album ‘÷’ by Ed Sheeran.

1 Eraser

The lyrics read like a stream-of-consciousness confession, with Sheeran keenly observing, “Friends and family filled with envy when they should be filled with pride.” Embodying raw honesty, Sheeran’s dissection of fame’s underbelly is nothing short of a revelation. In a world tinged with hollow glitz and glamour, he intones: “I think that money is the root of all evil, and fame is hell.” The track sees Sheeran wrestling with the joy and desperation of realizing his dreams, yet feeling immeasurably alone: “I am happy on my own, so here I’ll stay.” His use of ‘eraser’ symbolises the constant efforts to wipe out internal pain, a tantalisingly impossible feat. The track is a resonant heart cry, offering a chilling reminder of the unseen shadows that often accompany the spotlight.

2 Castle on the Hill

Emanating an incredible sense of nostalgia, the song taps into Sheeran’s keen ability to paint vivid pictures through his lyrics, such as when he croons, “Driving at 90 down those country lanes. Singing to ‘Tiny Dancer'”. This song isn’t just a foray into his past, rather a montage of life’s fleeting moments echoing with universal resonances. Each verse is a poignant snapshot – smoking hand-rolled cigarettes at fifteen, first kisses, weekend jobs, lost friends. Yet, it’s the melancholic affirmation “But these people raised me and I can’t wait to go home” that is the real gut punch, reinforcing the timeless adage ‘you can take the boy out of the town, but you can never take the town out of the boy’.

3 Dive

Ed croons about the fear and caution accompanying emotional investment – “So don’t call me baby / Unless you mean it / Don’t tell me you need me / If you don’t believe it / So let me know the truth / Before I dive right into you”. The palpable yearning in these lyrics underscores the powerful paradox of love: it can offer both a wild, exhilarating flight or a painful, plunging fall. Ed’s adept songwriting shines in his portrayal of the universal human desire for authenticity and honesty in a relationship: he wants his lover’s words to be as weighty as the emotions they supposedly represent. The lyrical depth of ‘Dive’ encapsulates the complexity of navigating love, fear, and desire, which are as uncertain as “jumping in harder than / Ten thousand rocks on the lake”.

4 Shape of You

Masterfully, Sheeran bends poetic imagery to blend the mundane and the mystical, singing “Last night you were in my room, And now my bed sheets smell like you, Every day discovering something brand new.” This standout line serves as a lyrical rupee, weaving a sense of intimacy and discovery, highlighting the allure of the new love he’s experiencing. The song’s hook, “I’m in love with the shape of you,” goes beyond physicality, hinting at a deeper connection, acknowledging the ineffable aspect of love. Ed’s lyrical prowess and his knack for penning relatable experiences make every verse of “Shape of You” a testament to his status as a pop music tour de force.

5 Perfect

Its lyrics are drenched in nostalgic romance, Sheeran whispering promises, “I will not give you up this time,” with a sincerity brimming from every word. The song vividly paints pictures of stolen moments of affection, encapsulated in a line like, “Baby, I’m dancing in the dark, with you between my arms.” The lyrics embody the journey of love, from the initial thrill of discovery to the more mature realization of mutual growth and envisioning a shared future. A stark confession, “Darling, you look perfect tonight,” becomes the emotional nucleus of the song, a tender compliment that’s more than just a physical observation – it feels like an acknowledgment of love in its truest, deepest form. Perfect, like its title, encapsulates universal sentiments about love in a heartrending narrative.

6 Galway Girl

“She played the fiddle in an Irish band, but she fell in love with an English man” speaks volumes about cultural collision, a love story set against the backdrop of a bar in Grafton Street. It’s a blend of nostalgia and romance, as Sheeran paints a vivid picture of his encounter with the titular Galway girl. He takes us through pool games, fiddle tunes, smoky bars, and even sneaks in a Dylan Thomas reference with “Our coats both smell of smoke, whisky and wine.” But the crowning moment of this song comes at the finale with “I swear I’m gonna put you in a song that I write, About a Galway Girl and a perfect night,” blurring the lines between art and reality, and encapsulating Sheeran’s trademark blend of sentimental storytelling and pop sensibilities.

7 Happier

His lyrics are a transparent display of his inset emotions, entwining heartache with yearning. He soothingly croons, “Ain’t nobody hurt you like I hurt you/But ain’t nobody love you like I do,” showcasing a unique blend of self-aware remorse tangled with steadfast affection. The chorus is a raw testament to his conflicting feelings, “But I know I was happier with you.” It’s an expression of piercing honesty, as Sheeran acknowledges the happiness he envisages in his ex’s face, yet, simultaneously, he bitterly pines for the shared past. “Happier” is a reflection on love lost, yet indomitable, exposing the duality of emotions through Sheeran’s succint, yet evocative lyricism.

8 New Man

It hits hard with lines like, “I heard he spent 500 pounds on jeans, goes to the gym at least six times a week” before delving into more scathing observations about this new man’s tribal tattoos and anal bleaching habits. Sheeran gets introspective, reminding his ex of the simpler days with, “Let me remind you of the days when you used to hold my hand and when we sipped champagne out of cider cans.” It’s a lyrical contrast revealing the superficial trappings of her new man versus the genuine affection they once shared. Underneath it all though, Sheeran’s snarky put-downs hide a deep-seated heartache —a longing for simpler times and a relationship that now only exists in Instagram throwbacks.

9 Hearts Don’t Break Around Here

His enduring talent to turn a phrase is evident as he sings, “She is the flint that sparks the lighter/ and the fuel that will hold the flame,” an intimate acknowledgement of the profound effect of his lover’s presence. The recurring lyric “Oh we’re in love, aren’t we?” adds a layer of vulnerable questioning, contrasting against the assurance in their bond, with every repetition bearing more conviction. The titular line “hearts don’t break around here” acts as an emphatic proclamation of their love’s invincibility – a powerful testament of the safe haven their relationship provides amidst life’s chaos. Ed envelopes us in this warm cocoon of acceptance and protection, offering an introspective exploration of love’s healing potential.

10 What Do I Know?

In this velvet-lined anthem to love and positivity, Sheeran confidently croons, “We could change this whole world with a piano, add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go”. This call to arms, echoed throughout the song, drives home his belief in music as a force for global change. While the world frets over “exponential growth and the stock market crashing in their portfolios”, Sheeran sits back, armed with a song, asserting that “Love could change the world in a moment”. However, he suitably tempers this bold assertion with an air of humility – “But what do I know?” – highlighting the self-awareness that makes Sheeran such an engaging storyteller.

11 How Would You Feel

In a contemplative slow burn, Sheeran captures the vulnerability of the pivotal moments in a blossoming romance: “How would you feel, If I told you I loved you”. He speaks to the profound connection he has with his lover, the anticipation of their affection, and the deeply relatable anxieties that come with romantic admissions. The lyrics paint an intimate scene of shared moments – stealing kisses in a front yard, watching the sunrise replace the moon – all amplifying the anxious question that hangs in the air: “Tell me that you love me too”. Through the song, Sheeran beautifully captures the highs and uncertainties of youthful love.

12 Supermarket Flowers

Yet it’s his nuanced optimism amidst this sorrow – “A heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved,” – which delivers an emotional sucker punch. This song sonically and emotionally embodies that bittersweet intersection of mourning and consolation, of memoria and resilience. It’s a tribute to an “angel in the shape of my mum,” a testament to enduring love and strength that captures grief’s dichotomy; it aches with absence but also solidifies a legacy of love. Ed’s words transcend personal experience, reflecting our universal journey through love, loss, and remembrance.

13 Barcelona

“Let’s pretend we’re dancing in the street / In Barcelona,” he sings, conjuring an image of wild, carefree abandon enveloped in warm Mediterranean breezes. The singer’s playful lyrics narrate a night out on the town, filled with dance, drinks, and potential love. “I fell in love with the sparkle in the moonlight / Reflected in your beautiful eyes,” Sheeran confesses, highlighting the romantic undertones of this summery track. But beyond the love story, “Barcelona” serves as an unabashed love letter to the city itself. With every repetition of “Barcelona,” Sheeran underscores his enamorment for this radiant catalonian city. Through his sunny melodies, he invites us to join him in this playful dance under the Barcelona sun, even if only for the span of a song.

14 Bibia Be Ye Ye

Sheeran isn’t just navel-gazing here; he’s expressing a universal human sentiment wrapped in a catchy pop melody – a Shakespearian jester in skinny jeans, if you will. Notice the backdrop of the oak tree and the bus ride into town – these vivid lyrics echo with the quiet echoes of everyday life, underscoring Sheeran’s raw authenticity. But my friends, the crux of “Bibia Be Ye Ye” lies in its catchy refrain, a phrase in the Twi language that translates to “all will be well”. It’s an anthem of optimism in the face of life’s absurdity, and damn if it isn’t infectious. Here’s to Ed Sheeran, the bard of the ordinary bloke, teaching us to dance in the rain of life’s messiness.

15 Nancy Mulligan

It’s an unabashed tribute to Sheeran’s own grandparents’ love story rooted in their homeland, a tender narrative that’s as much about defiance as it is about devotion. The line, “I’m gonna marry the woman I love, down by the Wexford border,” beautifully encapsulates the song’s romantic rebellion and commitment. The lyrics are peppered with vivid imagery, from the “snow white streak in her jet black hair” to the “old armchairs” by the fire, painting a detailed portrait of enduring love. The track simultaneously plays homage to the Ireland of Sheeran’s ancestry and charts the narrative course of a relationship that’s absolutely impervious to external pressure, whether it be the dictates of societal norms or even the passage of time itself.

16 Save Myself

It’s a brutally honest dissection of the toll personal sacrifice can take, with Sheeran lamenting “I gave all my oxygen to people that could breathe.” Talk about a wallop to the feels. As the tune spirals into the chorus, the true depth of Sheeran’s introspection surfaces – “So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself.” It’s a potent reminder that self-love isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Ed’s ability to sing about self-preservation with such vulnerability is a testament to his lyrical genius. It’s no walk in the park, this track, but it resonates because it’s steeped in a universal truth: you can’t pour from an empty cup.

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