However, this time around, Ed strays away from slow-burning acoustic love songs and dips his toes into uncharted waters, dabbling in hip-hop and even enlisting producer legends Rick Rubin and Pharrell to help with some of the tracks.
So, now the question stands, did the risk pay off? Here is a round-up of what the music world had to say about x below.
:: The Boston Globe praised Sheeran’s change in direction. “If his slow-burning hit 2011 debut “+” — pronounced “plus” — helped break Sheeran thanks to “The A Team,” a hushed lament about a drug-addled prostitute, x will be remembered for the redhead letting loose his inner soulman and MC. It works thanks to his own keening croon and assistance from a wide spectrum of producers known for their work with rock and hip-hop artists, including Rick Rubin and Pharrell.”
:: Billboard gave x a score of 81, saying that “x looks like a smash. Every song synthesizes the catchiest qualities of “The A Team” and its follow-up hit, “Lego House.” “Bloodstream” flaunts a soulful naiveté over the most delicious guitar lick on the album, while “I’m a Mess” builds into an anthemic ending that will surely cap off Sheeran’s future live show.”
:: Newsday gave the album an A-, bottom-lining it to the fact that Sheeran is “broadening his sound and skills.”
:: AndPop gave the disc an A for effort, but a B+ for execution. “While he might have not have reached his full potential, Ed Sheeran manages to deliver a pop album that has a broader array of sounds and which features a willingness to experiment.”
:: The Telegraph granted the album a whopping 5 stars, stating “Throughout it all, Sheeran stays true to the essential artistic notions of the classic singer-songwriter genre by treating his music as a vehicle for emotional veracity, personal revelation and universal inclusion. For older listeners struggling to connect with contemporary pop, Sheeran might just be the artist with the x factor.”
:: Rolling Stone, on the other hand, gave the album 3/5 stars. “He went multiplatinum with 2012′s +, and it seems like the experience might be starting to rattle the English singer-songwriter’s head, not to mention corrode his liver. A better album title might have been XXX.”
But now comes the real verdict. What did you think about the album? Let us know below!
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.