Ed Sheeran’s new album, =, was the perfect result of his musical equation

The cover of the incredible new album by Ed Sheeran

CNN Philippines

The cover of the incredible new album by Ed Sheeran

Before it dissipated, my love for Ed Sheeran was rekindled by all of the spectacularly ridiculous TikToks about the artist. When I discovered that another operation was being added to his series of albums named for mathematical signs, I was eager to listen to the most recent, =.

The first single that was released in the album, “Bad Habits,” didn’t strike me as amazing the first time I heard it. I didn’t see it as much better than mediocre, average, and all-around nothing special. However, it did indeed grow on me as many radio stations played the new hit. Eventually, I even found myself mumbling the lyrics when I was by myself.

In contrast, the second and final single of =, “Shivers,” was a hit from the get-go. With its plucking melody and enthralling vocals, “Shivers” was easily one of my favorite current songs. Lyrically, the song was a perfect pair with its beat and music. Sheeran doesn’t always take the romantic tone with his music, and in his previous non-collab album, ÷, he only does this in a slower manner. However, “Shivers” had an excellent, passionate energy that radiated from it.

When the album came out and I actually had to sit down and listen to it, the first song I selected was “Tides.” When the first notes at last met my ears, I physically wrinkled my nose, which was thankfully covered by my mask. It wasn’t necessarily my preference or the quality of the song that took me aback, but rather the style. There was an inexplicable quality to the song that made it seem so far from Sheeran’s usual tracks, but I didn’t dislike it at all. It had a refreshing variety, switching back and forth between slower increments and quicker-paced segments.

“First Times” was a blast from the past, leaving me reminiscing about when I became a massive Sheeran fan during the ÷ album era—the serene, acoustic strumming brought out the beauty and simplicity of the soft-spoken words.”

Opposingly, “First Times” was a blast from the past, leaving me reminiscing about when I became a massive Sheeran fan during the ÷ album era—the serene, acoustic strumming brought out the beauty and simplicity of the soft-spoken words. This was the sweet, caring side of Sheeran that balances out his more excitable and party-loving side.

A perfect example of this balance is one of the best-titled songs, “Overpass Graffiti.” The song was a great mix of emotions while still being lighthearted and easy to dance to. While it wouldn’t be my top pick, it’s because of the song’s versatility and lack of an overpowering individuality, not because it’s poor quality.

The most energizing song, and one of my personal favorites, was “2step.” I had high hopes from the title, but when I heard the driving beat and Sheeran’s rapping make an appearance, the expectations I had were far surpassed. When the lyrics began, I already felt that the song was cute and a nice mood for letting go of concerns and living in the moment. On the whole, it had the perfect amount of spice to keep it flavorful without going overboard.

Lastly, the somber wrap-up to this album, “Visiting Hours,” was a reflective, pensive, and emotional tribute to the recently deceased Michael Gudinski, who was a friend and mentor to Sheeran. While this is not Sheeran’s first memorial song, it is certainly one of his best, evoking emotions in even my tired and burnt-out mind. Gudinski’s death is truly tragic, but Sheeran managed to create something beautiful to remember him by, so he honored his friend in the best way he possibly could have.

= completed the trilogy of X, ÷, and now = with perfect songs that simultaneously stayed true to Sheeran’s style while adding original tracks to his collection of songs. Now, I’ll be waiting for the release of .