July , 2013
Review by Jessica Pardee
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Label: Vagrant/Rough Trade Records
Better days are certainly ahead now that the new Edward Sharpe album has been released. This self- titled album is the follow up to 2012's Here, which is a sister album in many ways.
Where Here explored the question of faith, the new album is like the reply letter from a higher power, Here is a more rustic and low-key effort.
Listening to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's is like attending a psychedelic tent revival. When one looks at the cover of the album we see a figure with their arms raised to heaven as if waiting for ascension.
The vibe takes us in a time machine to Laurel Canyon during the late 60's and Early 70's, certainly an influence on this California outfit, but the feeling of this album is less about life on earth than it is about the journey of the soul. We hear this on songs such as Please! An exclamation of joy and proclaims that love is the answer. Two is one of the gentler tracks on the album and includes a harmony that could be from a forgotten Mama's and The Papa's song.
We are taken further with what seem like lost songs from the Summer of Love with tracks such as Let's Get High and If I Were Free. The latter being what the narrator would do if he were indeed free, as the asks and the narrator answers. This song is a delight and inspires the same introspection of the listener. The album ends with the song This Life which is an R&B number that you might hear as you pass a tiny church off a dirt road in the Mississippi Delta.
The most undeniable thing about the band is its energy, passion, and chemistry. This carries over on every track of the album. You do feel like it's the front-man's band but also close unit of somewhat equals. This is the same appeal that The Band had. It's this idealism that seems to shape the band and ultimately defines it.
However, for all its energy, passion, ideals and unforgettable live show, the band is selling themselves short by revisiting the same formula. Here dealt with similar themes and though this record is a continuation of that and it does take the vision further, they might as well recorded a double album.
Alex Ebert and the band have again channeled the sounds and the feeling of nostalgia many feel about the spirit of the 60's and early 70's, this album is certainly it's peak. The album is a great one but it being the furthest that this band can take this sound and still remaining relevant means they need to explore new sounds and new themes on the next go around. By limiting their themes keeps this album from standing out among their past efforts, even though it is a decent record.