Ed Sheeran loves two things: alcohol and cuddles. This is what I’ve grasped from extensively listening to the singer-songwriter’s + (pronounced Plus). From the get-go, however, Sheeran’s acoustic grime is compelling, and his blend of folk and rap has earned him incredible success in the UK. With supporters from Perez Hilton to Jamie Foxx to One Direction, Sheeran seems to be on the verge of breaking through the American market with his latest batch of D.I.Y. schoolboy songs.
The first single off the album, “The A Team,” is a poignant track about a drug-addicted prostitute, no doubt intended to tug at heart strings and expose listeners to the legitimacy of Sheeran’s talent right away. “The A Team,” however, feels at odds with the rest of the album, which is generally autobiographical. From there, + remains sullen, transitioning rather awkwardly into Sheeran professing, “I wanna be drunk when I wake up.” Despite the hype, + is bland and at times terribly cheesy, with lyrics like “I should run you a hot bath, fill it up with bubbles” on “Wake Me Up” or “cover me up, cuddle me in” on “Kiss Me.”
What is frustrating is that Sheeran appears to be a genuine talent despite these instances of severe corniness. His voice is emotively beautiful on every track and when his songs are good, they are genuinely good. Standout tracks include the hypnotic “Give Me Love” and the cocky but undeniably catchy “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.” The momentum is too often interrupted with mundane lyrics like “if your DVD breaks today, you should’ve got a VCR because I’ve never owned a Blu Ray.” Plus is a good listen but ultimately falls short of its potential as a great acoustic album.