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With the release of their third album, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros continue their climb to the top of the indie heap. But judging by reviews of their latest self-titled effort, the road might be rockier than they imagined.
With the Los Angeles-based folk-rock collective, led by Alex Ebert, having seen major success on their way up — “Home,” from their 2009 album Up From Below, was not only a radio hit but was used in several national ad campaigns — the pressure is most certainly on.
Does the band deliver? Read on for what the critics are saying.
In a rather harsh article, Spin was decidedly unimpressed with the newest Edward Sharpe offering, labeling it Worst New Music of the week. Barry Walters writes that the “songs and performances usually underwhelm.” And while he adds that Ebert’s songwriting can be “startlingly beautiful,” he concludes that Ebert cannot “pull off a whole album as powerful as the last two songs,” and “could never sustain such beauty.”
Rolling Stone describes the album’s sound as “huge and more evocatively produced than previous efforts.” However, Will Hermes also asserts that some of Ebert’s lyrics “fall flat,” and his “over-emoting gets wearisome,” reminding us that “good vibes only get you so far.”
But Edward Sharpe and the Zeroes have a fan in Betty Clark from the UK’s The Guardian, who described the album’s two singles, “Better Days” and “This Life” as “a brilliant combination of their florid debut and the contemplative soul of its successor.”
The Boston Globe fittingly describes “the last lament, ‘This Life,’” as “a sort of last call. It generates a bracing tension that the album lacked right up to the end.”
In a concise review for W Magazine, Devon Ivie notes “the sincerity and intoxicating joy that have made the indie band so popular remains, but snuck a few meditative tracks into the mix.”
Consequence Of Sound acknowledges that while “the group often garners more love from the mainstream masses than the critics, and are sometimes badgered for commonplace back porch anthems, the stomp-clap is merely this album’s backbone.”
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes play the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 4.
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