[ALBUM: Review] Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros – Here
Best known for the uplifting single ‘Home’ from 2009 debut Up From Below, Alex Ebert returns with his life-loving jamboree for the band’s latest release, Here. Compared to their previous effort this album feels more focused, demonstrated not only by the shorter tracks and album length but also the consistency of musical styles.
While Up From Below was a jack of many musical trades, punctuated with greatness, Here is a more coherent piece. And while it never reaches the highs of its predecessor, it never quite reaches the lows either. Although second track ‘That’s What’s Up’ wades unconvincingly into territory covered by Home, a late gospel interlude gives the song a unique flavour. The inclusion of horns is also welcome, most notably on reggae-tinged ‘Mayla’ and flowerchild folk number ‘Dear Believer’.
The concept of rising action is prominent, with pseudo-Evangelical ‘I Don’t Want To Pray’ and steadily-paced opener ‘Man On Fire’ both reaching stirring crescendos. Indeed, media speculation around the album has questioned its unmistakably transcendent nature, doubting the sincerity of the themes. This is mainly due to the recent and drastic change in lead singer Alex Ebert’s persona – from frontman of electronic rockers Ima Robot to Messiah-like, worldly superhero Edward Sharpe. But to overanalyse the disparity of his incarnations runs the risk of overlooking the very candid positivity, joy and inclusiveness that is the record’s focus.
Taken at face value, this ‘60s folk-pop throwback continues the band’s tradition, making running away to join their crazy, blissful circus a highly appealing prospect.