Review: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Here
Published on June 14th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Those familiar with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ 2009 debut Up From Below should not expect to be startled by the content of this sophomore effort, but there’s still enjoyment to be gleaned from this gospel-tinged set of good, old-fashioned pop singalongs.
Opener “Man on Fire” starts out like Simon and Garfunkel classic “The Boxer” with extra added ghostly background yelps, before going on to acquire an ivory-tinklin’ trot and a big old round of ba ba bas the likes of which main man Alex Ebert is a canny enough craftsman to deploy as a means of elevating a good song into something truly memorable and communal. This basically sets the tone for the other eight tracks on show here, and it’s a hard thing to criticise.
“That’s What’s Up” is a boy/girl exchange fit to rival the magnificent “Home” from Up From Below with such simple yet instantly winning lyrical turns as “I’ll be the church, you be the steeple / You be the king, I’ll be the people” and “I’ll be the sun, you be the shining / You be the clock, I’ll be the timing”. Again the mix plays host to spectral backing noise, as if the music and production’s invocation of the ’60s is so authentic as to actually haunt it. Still, as usual with this bunch, its familiarity works in its favour.
Elsewhere we have the bouncy banjo singalong of “I Don’t Wanna Pray”, the breezy, beachy chant of “One Love to Another”, the cumulatively elating “Fiya Wata” and the typically nostalgic, set-in-its-ways-but-so-gosh-darn-classic-sounding “Dear Believer”. Meanwhile, “Mayla” sounds a bit like what might have happened had The Beatles also collaborated on The Flaming Lips’ Heady Fwends – cracking use of brass, too – while “Child” brings to mind The Bees‘ “Silver Line” with an extra added, not to mention exquisite, minor chord change.
Closing track “All Wash Out” does what it says on the tin, all laid-back finger-clicks, water sounds, luxuriously tinkling piano and lyrics about “drunken fuckers” – then, with a mighty, clattering drum fill, it threatens to hurtle skywards, remembers itself and relinquishes. Like Here as a whole, it knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else. That may not set your world on fire, but this is a fine collection of songs nevertheless.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ second album Here is out now on Vagrant Records and Rough Trade. For more information, including a list of live dates, please visit edwardsharpeandthemagneticzeros.com