Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros brought back their distinct sound, but with a twist in their new self-titled album.
The California band of more than ten members has drawn inspiration from the sights and sounds of the 1970s, as is clearly evident in their latest album.
The album opens with the troupe’s first single “Better Days.” The song inspires optimism, flower power and the desire to run away in a beat-up Volkswagen van with your best friends in the California desert.
This first single is followed by “Let’s Get High,” which features singer Alex Ebert’s raspy voice accompanied by funky ‘70s type music as the song starts off with “Let’s. Get. HIGH.” “There’s no protests, there’s just songs when we’re hiiighh on love” Ebert sings. This song shows the band taking a turn from their more listener-friendly music of their past two albums, by taking a risk of upsetting those who loved the band’s claim-to-fame song “Home.”
However, the happy song is followed by the album’s most infuriating song “Two.” The song, a duet between Ebert and Jade Castrinos, bellows “two voices carry farther than me” throughout the entire song. Yes, I get it, it’s basic physics, two voices are louder than one – thank you, now please end the song.
The disgruntled Ebert speaks of getting up and leaving Los Angeles in “Country Calling,” an idea that’s familiar to many during the days of their youth. The mundane and monotonous day to day life seems like a chore, but this song gives hope there’s more to life. The song ends with, “I’ll be your man with strong arms, hold on/ love you, of you, all I ask is here.”
“Life is Hard” speaks to the idea though you may not want to admit life is hard, it’s OK, everyone knows it. Lyrics “It’s falling deep into love, it’s getting crushed just like a bug” and “It’s feeling silence, it’s feeling sound” resonate with listeners who are young at heart pretending to be an adult and having life together. It’s hard to come terms with the egregious polarity of life; it’s deep and complicated, simple and easy all at the same time.
For all those struggling free spirits, “If I Were Free” is your song. The song would fit perfectly into “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist,” a song for those who want leave the predictable and safe route, and head off to New York or some equally scary, big city and follow your dreams.
“In the Lion” secedes “If I Were Free,” and though not inherently bad, it fails to compete with the rest of the album.
The second half of the album seems to be more emotion heavy than the preceding half, starting with slow song, “They Were Wrong” and follows with Ebert’s deep bass vocals. The darker tracks of the album seem to fall in the middle, but grouped together, the mood is steadily lightened through the end of the album.
“Remember to Remember,” is the only song that features Castrinos as the lead singer. Her voice is full of range and vibratos, “Remember to Remember” is possibly the best sing-along of the album.
“Give Me a Sign” takes a slightly more upbeat than the album’s previous songs, this theme continues with “When You’re Young” and “Milton” which brings the album full circle.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros deliver on their junior album. Their folk-pop sounds transcend the first two albums, delivering their signature sound but adding to it as they experiment with mixing the old with the new. The album is a roller coaster of emotions, but it never fails to give listeners what they expected from the group.