If you don’t flinch while listening to playground clichés and lyrics formed of simple, derivative couplets, then buy this record, dear reader, as it may have been recorded especially for you.
You likely came across the triple platinum Damien Rice album, back when it was all over the telly. You then chuckled unresponsively last Christmas when the only tune from the album that you still remember well enough to hum (that one about a metaphoric cannonball) was covered by a girl group on X Factor UK whose name was pinched from a children’s charity.
These are the songs conning us to feel our hearts have been touched – although only as our genuine reaction, that of a kitchen whisk in the gut causes secondary shivers through the discs of our spine that finish their rumblings at the breast bone.
Like Rice before him, Ed Sheeran is a singer resigned to innocuous pop songs. Yet, + (for that is the name of this album, in a world where words must prove irrelevant) owes as much to the faux R&B of bucks like the young and cantankerous Chris Brown as to any tradition of white boys waving guitars and crooning pleasantly about the stars.
Listen to "Lego House" or "Small Bump," and Sheeran’s warbling vocals are heard pinned up against what sounds to be the support of a convenient drum machine. Or, take as your example "You Need Me, I Don’t Need You," where the singer mumbles through the following phrase: “I sing, I write my own verse, hell/Don’t need another wordsmith to make my tune sell”. He continues: “I sing fast/I know that all my shit's cool/I will blast and I didn't go to BRIT School/I came fast with the way I act/Right I can't last/If I'm smoking on a crack pipe”.