Love Is What’s Up On Edward Sharpe Followup
May 30, 2012 · Print This Article
Around the time that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros released Up From Below, I read in the music press that singer-visionary Alex Ebert had to go to rehab and get clean and sober before he could create the Edward Sharpe mythos and make this wild dreamy happy music. When I finally got to see this band’s live show on the Railroad Revival Tour, I couldn’t help being alarmed by Alex’s aura of frantic and antics of folly. If this isn’t a relapse, it must be some old-time religion.
When gathered as a band, they’re not just messengers of love, they’re old school troubadours, and they are also poets, painters, photographers, and chefs. On the follow-up album Here, we see some solid evidence that it’s not bad drugs but good religion that’s cascading all over my ears.
The record shifts from subtle woozy hypnotic gospel pop to overt folksy gospel revival, channeling a mystical mashup of Johnny and June Cash meets John and Yoko with mild dashes of Jack and Meg meets Sonny and Cher. It’s all Up With People meets the Allman Brothers down at the groovy altar call. Permanent summer camp is in session, and we’re all drunk on the non-alcoholic communion grape juice.
“Man On Fire” launches the ritual with a simple, profound, and grandiose request: “I want the whole damn world/To come dance with me.” And the pop ambiance, people’s message, and energizing-mesmerizing quality of the band’s live shows actually make that possible.
“That’s What’s Up” reminds us that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are still what’s up. But it also reassures us that “Home,”Alex’s epic duet with Jade Castrinos on the first album, was by no means a fluke. These two can sing to each other in ways that feel more than real. They sing: “Love is our shelter/Love is our cause/Love goes on forever/Yeah love will lead us all/Love, it is our honour/Love, it is our all/Love goes on forever/Yeah love it is our home.”
Love is definitely what’s up. It always has been, and let’s hope it always will be.
“I Don’t Wanna Pray” is a toe-tapping, hand-clapping, old-school-bus-quality singalong that takes me back to summers at camp and the sweet smell of mountains mingled with the strange smell of school-bus seat. Alex brings a message – not against prayer per se – but against the separation between prayer and everyday life. It’s a truly holy hope that we’ll all transcend being the “pray-er” to be prayer itself.
Swooning high on the 60s-70s orchestral vibe, “Dear Believer” pulls us back to paradise, teaches that “reaching for heaven is what I am on earth to do.” Then “Mayla” mingles “The Mighty Quinn” with “Come Thou Font” like a classic radio or church piece, coming forth with more magical mystery tours for the heart and mind in such short time!
The sweet summer rain reigns with “All Wash Out,” a soft but strong symphonic crescendo to the whole affair. It’s all forgiveness and sweet healing and freedom from our chains.
If this all sounds far too SoCal Jesus Freak as mere marketing move, it doesn’t help that front(sha)man Alex fits the hippie messianic look to a tee. But Alex is not the second coming, his band is just coming on tour to a festival or theater near you. In a world where love is sometimes in short supply, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros amp love loudest and into the farthest dimensions. The music seems more than sincere to me, and listening to it forms a sincerely happy and habit-forming experience.
– Andrew William Smith, Editor
Here was released on 5.29.2012 by Community Music. Visit edwardsharpeandthemagneticzeros.com