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Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Community Music

Jul 22, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Once upon a time, artists were reliant upon reinvention as their careers progressed; this model was perfected by pioneers like David Bowie and Paul Simon, who somehow managed to traverse myriad musical contexts while maintaining a thread of consistency throughout. It’s a remarkable balancing act, and a necessary one if longevity is part of an artist’s plans. Of course, it’s easier to negotiate stylistic sea changes as a solo artist than a full-fledged band, let alone one with 10 members, but for whatever reason, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros haven’t learned any appreciable new moves since 2009’s Up From Below.

And perhaps they like it that way. Vocalists Jade Castrinos and Alex Ebert sound lovely as ever leading their ensemble through lush, mystical pop landscapes. This time around, things skew a bit more toward Flying Burrito Brothers country-flecked intimacy than Morricone/mariachi epic. Castrinos’ “Remember to Remember” and Ebert’s album closer “This Life” are highlights: both harken back to an era when durable, well-written, non-life-changing rock had value, if only as the soundtrack to moments and experiences. But here is a band that once seemed dedicated to making life-changing art. When they attempt it on songs like “In the Lion” and “Life Is Hard,” it seems less suited to their current preoccupations. Instead of the Sufi-like searching they once favored, occasionally blessed with some powerful insight, there’s a bit too much urban hippie pseudo-wisdomthe kind they’ve long been accused of espousingcrowding things here.

Ultimately, it’s unfair and even glib to say this album doesn’t hold water because it has no “Home” or “40 Day Dream,” but all the same, one laments the loss of the magical, poppy Midas touch Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros once wielded with such ease. Something has to fill that absence and this latest release doesn’t make a satisfactory case for what that something may be. Creatively speaking, it’s hard to keep that much gas in the tankfew manage it. Luckily, there’s enough of the tasteful and orchestrally rich rock they specialize in to keep the motor running andone hopeskicking into high gear by the time they share with us again. (www.edwardsharpeandthemagneticzeros.com)

Author rating: 5.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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