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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

Posted on the 12 August 2013 by Audiocred @audiocred

Alex Ebert founded Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes after the dissolution of his previous band Ima Robot. For anyone who was familiar with Ima Robot’s dance-emo swagger, Ebert’s decision to channel his not undeniable millennial angst into a group that makes Fleet Foxes look like crust punks probably seemed ill-informed. But to anyone who is familiar with the mercantile nature of “major label indie” and the fact that Fleet Foxes actually sold pretty well, the dollar signs were probably visible in Ebert’s eyes. I’m all for wild artistic leaps; most, if not all, of my favorite artists are musical chameleons whose first album is incomprehensibly different from their last. Each of these artists has, within their discography, an album I absolutely despise. But you see, for all of Ima Robot’s insufferable Warp Tour posturing there was something fairly genuine about them. This song, for example, is actually kind of great. It feels honest, at least; and it has a sense of humor. Ebert’s Edward Sharpe persona, on the other hand, has the feel of someone cashing in on the genuine (but also fairly trying) hippie weirdness of someone like Devendra Banhart. And so what follows is a meditation on insufferable unoriginality and nostalgic smugness, because where someone like Banhart lives in the margins of his craft, Ebert and co. present naught but superficial bombast: they sing of joy, piety, openness and I do not believe them for a second.

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Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes would probably be a pretty good album if I had never heard any of the albums it so desperately wants to be. That is to say, these songs aren’t any more repulsive than they are engaging. The vocal duet of “Two” makes for some truly pleasant moments, and it could hardly be said that Ebert doesn’t know how to command a horde of capable musicians. But because I have in fact listened to The Beatles the songs on Edward Sharpe feel immediately hollow and pointless. Like the startup tone on my Mac, I am not repelled by a song like “Better Days” but I am not about to actually try to analyze it because doing so would be a struggle against the titans(sorry Eno). Of course, music doesn’t have to be better than The Beatles -or even more daring – to catch my interest; but “no band could ever be better than The Beatles so why even try” should not be the thesis of your recording project.

It is far from my place to question Alex Ebert’s artistic integrity or his intention in power sliding from slick, coke glowing electro-pop into an appalachian miasma of “all you need is love” symphonic folk. Well-intended or not, the final product feels very artificial, very heartless, and intenseley overproduced. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes is big and beautiful in the empty way that a Trump building is beautiful because it has the components of a version of beauty; because it has paid for beauty. It is gaseous; it is vast and expanding but it has no legitimate mass. Love lives in the dirt and grease of life, and anything – new music especially – that portends to say something about love had better keep its inherent ugliness in mind.

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1.5/5 bars

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