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CD Review: ‘Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’

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Annie Zaleski

Two and a half stars

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Despite its retro vibe, LA hippie-revivalist troupe Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros has always been ahead of its time. The kind of uplifting neo-folk the band has peddled for years has recently been a mainstream staple—thanks in large part to one-time tourmates Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show—while even its most psychedelic detours felt like a communal celebration of modern creativity. Unfortunately, both this lightness of spirit and sound are missing on the band’s disappointing third album.

After the diversity of styles found on 2012’s Here, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros feels like something of a creative backslide. Although the occasional crackling guitar adds energy, and “They Were Wrong” is a lovely minimalist tune with subtle horns and plucked notes reminiscent of Andrew Bird, overall, the record is a monotonous hybrid of gospel-folk proselytizing, faux-Stones swagger, psychedelic stargazing and cracked-out soul.

Not helping matters, the tempo hovers around slow slog, a condition magnified by the album’s shapeless arrangements and self-indulgent lyrics. Along with “They Were Wrong,” snag the optimistic, choir-harmony-laden “Better Days” and the twangy, classic-rock-meets-soul-revue “Country Calling”—and leave the rest of this corny Woodstock nostalgia behind.

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