Words by Dan Schaffel

Why did Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros choose their third release to carry the honor of a self-titled record? It could be because this new material finds the flower children reaching new highs on their most ambitious effort yet.

“Better Days” leads the dozen tracks with their prototypical opus sound that’s worked well their whole career. Clean electric guitar licks on “Two” and “Please!” scream Beatles influence, yet their form stays true to what’s always separated this artist from the rest: male and female contrasting vocals. More so on this album than the previous two, Jade and Alex were willing to step aside for one another to take over entire tracks. He took the sneaky, tip-toeing sounds of “They Were Wrong” with his deep, resonating close-to-the-floor croon, while she took “Remember to Remember” in an indie Tesdeschi-Trucks Band direction.

Where the soul of this album rings most true is at its midpoint and conclusion, the two tracks containing the word ‘life’ in them. “Life is Hard” is a lyrical preaching, a testament addressing obvious surface struggles we all encounter on a daily basis. It’s musically broad, using instruments from jingle bells to a string section with piano and horns. Also, it’s one of the only tracks where Alex and Jade each feature individual verses conveying the same message.

Next, “This Life” could very well be Alex’s favorite song. Listen to how he sings…the dude’s crying when he sings. It sounds like he just couldn’t keep composure on this song, his life and this musical movement he has so much emotion invested in. He sings the first line “I’ve been trying to pretend/That death is my friend”. Those are demons one cannot fake, and what he’s shared with us is as authentic as we’ve hoped all our rock icons could always be.

While some will prefer listening to the upbeat, positive catchy choruses of previous albums Here and Up From Below, this stands apart in its concepts and execution. Blending influences of artists that were fundamental to their growth into a collective statement on how dramatic and deep their music can (and will) get in the future shows how dynamic this group is. It’s been great to see how they’ve used the success of their first hit single “Home” to expand their audience and not settle for making hits, but rather full works that fans of that original door opener can dive into comfortably.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
“Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros”
Vagrant Records
© July 23rd, 2013



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