Ed Sheeran-Divide Review

Sheerans third album gaining worldwide anticipation after conquering the world with his first two albums which went onto to become a massive success and gained critical respect along the way.

I’ve never been a big fan of Sheeran pefering his older stuff that he used to do on the YouTube channel SBTV to the more mainstream stuff that we’ve become to know from him. Certain songs are very good, A Team was a great song and the song that prepelled him into the spotlight. 

The second album was more One Direction than revolutionary music. The first album was closer to the style of music that people seem to associate him with, this edgy music with great lyrics.

When he released Castle on the Hill and Shape of You it didn’t give me hope for the third album thinking its going to be more like the second album. Castle on the Hill is a song I think if I had heard it when I was 14 it would have been the best thing ever. 

From the first couple of songs of the album it seems that there is a tribal feel which actually does work well. Having previously said those songs reminded me of the second album it seems a lot different from both the first two albums. Each album does seem to take a different approach but each having the same ‘please love me’ message.

Perfect is a song that someone auditioning for the X Factor will be singing. Its also the first time the album takes away from the tribal theme that seemed to be running for a few of the early songs. Galway Girl is probably the stand out song from the first half of the album, with an Irish feel to it, mixed well with Sheerans singing flow. Once again the lyrics aren’t challenging but its probably the most catechist song from the first half.

Happier is another ballad that has that feel of an X Factor audition song. Save myself, the last song on the album is an excellent song that does showcase the talent that Sheeran has as a songwriter but it doesnt come through enough on the album.

Overall the album will bring Sheeran success as his fanbase is massive but for me it isn’t a great album. There’s a lot of songs where the lyrics feel recycled from the last song and we have this evergrowing reality of the targeted market that this album is for. It is obvious throughout that he has taken from his travelling experiences and put them into the sounds behind the album with hints of Spain, Ireland and Africa coming in throughout the album. 

The album is different once again, which is something that has be seen as progression but overall the lyrics are the same as they were in the second and the album isn’t his best work.

4/10.

American Beauty: Manufacturing Male Identity

Often appearing on a list of the greatest films of all time, American Beauty directed by Sam Mendes, is an absolute classic in terms of defining an American way of life. 

In order to establish the importance of the film, let’s first just check the history. If we look at America in the 80s we have this hard bodies image promoted by President Ronald Regan. Men were men. The films in the 80s reflected this, with films such as Die Hard, Rambo and Rocky IV in which he wins the cold war.

Nothing could break these men and in terms of the gender issues. Women were becoming more prominent in the workplace but sexism was (and still is) very much a thing. But men were indestructible, America represented its president, a man who had been shot and survived.

Now if we cross over the Atlantic to the UK the 80s were very different with Margaret Thatcher in power and the industrial industries closing, the mines and factories, many men lost their jobs. Men weren’t as dependent on as much as they were before and more jobs opened up for women to do. Coming into the 1990s women were becoming the main breadwinner leaving men with a crisis of identity. 
Back to America and the 90s were very much like the UK were women were establishing themselves and men werent the main breadwinner anymore. Enter Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey).

Here were going to look at the two main male characters in the film, first looking at Kevin Spacey depiction of a broken man. His wife in the film is seen as the breadwinner although we don’t know for sure but she seems to be the one in charge, bossing Spacey’s character about, talking to him like he’s shit. In many ways she is at times the films antagonists. 

She is completely career driven and won’t stop at anything in order to achieve glory and success, including sleeping with the local real estate king pin to get ahead. Her marriage with Lester is obviously at breaking point but there’s a click inside Lester’s head that leads the film, a mid life crisis within his crisis of masculinity.

He starts smoking weed, working out, listening to Pink Floyd, quits his job and starts working at a fast food drive thru. He wants to live the life of his younger and former self. The most important change is the films most iconic and incredible scenes where Lester has fallen in love with his daughters best friend.

He’s almost immune to everything, he just has this idea of how he should live his life and keeps on that doing it before he has a realisation of what hes doing when hes seducing his daughters best friend. 

He eventually is shot by his next door neighbour whose the second male I will be looking into. Homophobic and hateful towards the people closest to him, an ex war veteran, a Nazi memorabilia collector, Fitzgeraldiss an American still stuck in time. 
He commands his house like a drill Sargent who eventually diminishes himself by this crisis in his own masculinity by making a move on Lester. Obviously a in the closet homophobic homosexual man, he hides behind his traditions but when he sees that his neighbours are two gay men he sees that the country is changing.

When Lester declines, Fitzgerald shoots him soon after, not being able to handle his rejection and the shame of being homosexual. Fitzgerald is been manufactured to be the way that he is by America and the problem that many Americans still have today where religion and institutional ways of life have lead generations to believe in the fact that women shouldn’t work and homosexuality is wrong and when that those things become the norm, those people can’t change their way of life because they refuse to change their transitions and beliefs.

Identity is manufactured through what we see, read and what we get told and American Beauty is a great example of a film that highlights how America changed and how men suffered an identity crisis because of their inability to change.

Saba: Bucket List Project Review

A new wave of Chicago hip hop is beginning to make it’s name in the world of music with the international success of Chance the Rapper. Along with him, Saba is another rapper who is starting to make a name for himself, gaining public recognition after appearing on Angels (Chance the Rapper) and appearing on Nonames incredible album Telephone.

Project Bucket List is a unqiue and at times brilliant take on the modern rap game as well as borrowing from the musical ideas associated with the African american culture. 

The album shares similarities with Chance the Rappers Colouring Book but it’s more grounded, with catchy and preaching chorus and skits in between songs making this a execllent attempt at individuality in a new wave of the rap game.

Having already had many mixtapes out, this album is a look into his Chicago life and his ability to write about key issues such as depression and poverty comes through.

He’s able to mix his impressive rap flow with a selection of impressive beats. Westside Bound 3 is an example of this, in which he combines his rap flow with intelligent lyrics that talk about his upbringing and the poverty faced through his upbringing in Chicago. 

Symmetry takes a more trippy take on the album, with dream like vocals and sounds and overwhelming sounds that explode together getting louder as the song reaches it chorus. Probably one of the stand out songs of the album, it gives a break from the earlier songs of the album where its more listening than enjoying whereas this is more of song you’d play on a nice summer days.

The final song The World in my Hands serves as a conclusion to the album, showing off Saba’s impressive flow and contuning with the same inviting beat that draws in the listener. The catchy chorus stays with you which gives you the overall impression of a good album that can still have a postive impression on you right until the last line.

Overall, the first real album that Saba has done is a clever and imaginative attempt at personifying the Chicago rap game that has been brought into the public eye by imagination of Chance the Rapper and with this ever growing public recognition on this emerging rap game, Saba has done himself justice with a great album.

7/10.