Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
May 31, 2012 Issue #41 - Yeasayer
It's been three years since Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros carved out an interesting creative niche with their 2009 debut album, Up From Below. In the '60s, three years could mean everything to a folk-oriented act, though the lofty pursuits of artists like Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs are leagues away from those of The Magnetic Zeros.
Here finds the band still wholeheartedly favoring a good-feeling, acoustic-singing vibe and lyrics that connect universally over anything pointed or political. Musically, at least part of the album marks a gradual evolution from the hootenanny to other similarly organic areas.
Some of the instrumentation for "That's What's Up" points toward what the Zeros might emerge with should they woodshed with a few albums by The Band, though otherwise it's basically a trademark Zeros clapper-stomper-singalong. "Man On Fire" builds from a quiet, smoldering track echoing a thoughtful John Prine to a rousing group meet channeling Johnny Cash and The Carter Family. It's a good fit for the group. And then there's "Dear Believer," an unexpected turn toward soft rock straight from the early '70s.
As with Up From Below, it seems at times that these folks are determined to write new campfire songs for the new millennium. "I Don't Wanna Pray" kicks off with Alex Ebert leading the way singing, "I love my God, God made love/I love my God, God made hate/I love my God, God made good," before a banjo and a thumping, high-tempo beat run with it and encourage some handclapping. "Mayla" would be one where the hootin' and hollerin' had settled down with the dimming firelight, with everyone grabbing the hand next to them for some unison singing.
There's enough creative progress here to prove that the band isn't in a holding pattern, though they're shrewd enough to still be easily recognizable to the audience that formed around their debut. (www.edwardsharpeandthemagneticzeros.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 7/10