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Review| Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Self-titled (Album)

The Zeros bring a roots rock and psychedelic 60s feel to their 2013 self titled album, exploring themes of breaking free and rebirth.

The band made up of 12 performers, play a concept album that echoes lead singer Alex Ebert’s own troubles coming out of rehab, painting a picture of his adjustment and reinvention as Edward Sharpe. Many of the musicians have known each other from a young age so emphasis is in the understanding they have for each other in their music. The sound evokes a roots rock and gospel feel, featuring a prominent Alabama Shoals style bass. The songs are catchy and create feeling of joy akin to the collective at a festival, music produced to a live atmosphere, to interact with its audience.

Music critic, Anthony Fantano comments on the ‘acid soaked guitar solos and thumping Paul McCartney-esque bass lines’, yet it is more than that. A signifying theme is nostalgia, looking back at the freedoms of youth, having known a ‘better life’ emerging into a world that is tied down, yet retaining the belief in innocence and spiritual freedom. The Zeros are quite clearly inspired by legends of Woodstock, and they try to echo this reflection in the music they create.

As the album ventures to various levels of dynamic, its downfall is the experimental nature of some of the tracks seeming to be a bit ‘messy’; as Fantano describes, lacking coherence, almost like a drug delirium, lacking a resolution. This is apparent in the catchy, but chaotic ‘Lets Get High’. 

One of the better tracks is ‘Remember to Remember’, as Jade’s soaring voice brings Gospel from the river. The album would fair better with more of her, as Ebert’s voice becomes edgy and harsh.

Although the album is uninhibited and exploratory, it’s musicality is lost in the confusion. Toned down tracks like ‘This Life’ however, are effective and the vibes you get from a refreshing gospel tinged, 60s sound are guaranteed to lift your spirits.

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