Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros - PersonA - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros - PersonA

by Justin Pearson Rating:7 Release Date:2016-04-18

Indie-folk collective Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have pulled it together both figuratively and literally as a band with latest effort, PersonA. As lead singer Alex Ebert has alluded to in recent interviews, most of the songs on the album were written together in a collaborative, improvisational atmosphere, and it shows.

Highlighting the joy of the band's renewed spirit is 'Wake Up the Sun'. Its big horn and vocal swells close the song perfectly, as its main concern seems to be about embracing an individual, love-based spirituality and shunning the strictures of organized religion. 'No Love Like Yours' is pure exuberance, and it gets right at the heart of being in love, that feeling further heightened by its boisterous chorus. Another high note is 'The Ballad Of Yaya' with an infectious, sing-along chorus: "Wake up the sun Yaya/ Howl at the moon Yaya/ You're not the only one running for the sun."

Elsewhere, whether intentional or not, other influences can be felt. The tumbleweed-y, dusty spirit of Calixico is all over opener 'Hot Coals' with its shuffling drums, southwest-tinged horns and spry piano. The driving 'Let It Down' builds with tension, leading to furious drumming that easily reminds one of the freewheeling antics of Rusted Root.

Maintaining one's identity in a chaotic world seems to be another theme on the record. The soulful 'Uncomfortable' points a finger at complacency and people who hide behind fear: "What y'all call freedom look like guns to me/ Your guns look like fear to me/ What y'all call ugly I call real...You've got to get uncomfortable." The need for more love to quell world violence is now, and 'Perfect Time' reflects this urgency: "Mountain top chokings/ Afternoon rapists/ Prime time war time/ I can't take it/ God tell me what to do/ Is it time for love?"

Even a small-scale song like the sweet, gorgeous 'Lullaby' feels as big and round as most of the album. As an ode to Ebert's daughter, it's a balloon swollen with love that's tied to a delicate string, and one of the album's best tracks.

PersonA finds Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros reaching for something wider in terms of sound with a more pronounced synergy on display, and it suits them well, even if it's not an all-out masterpiece. Four albums in, it feels like the album they were always meant to make, its late arrival dampening the effect only slightly. With the focus on "many" rather than "one" as the red line through Edward Sharpe on the cover implies, the Magnetic Zeros appear to be finally hitting a stride worth taking note of.

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