After almost two years, our rosy-cheeked pal Ed Sheeran has released a pair of new singles — his first two since “Photograph” in May 2015. “Shape Of You” and “Castle On the Hill” offer sonic glimpses of his forthcoming album, thus far unnamed (though, the dual release suggests to some that it will be called Divide). As for the songs themselves, well, they’re utterly forgettable and dumb.
“Shape Of You,” an upbeat, desperate grasp at sexual maturity, sounds like off-brand Justin Timberlake (not that he’s been doing himself any favors recently). It’s catchy enough, I guess, but Sheeran pulls a singularly aggravating move: attempting to mitigate physical objectification with a frantic #wokebae qualifier. “Although my heart is falling too,” he assures, “I’m in love with your body.” Ok, Ed.
“Castle On the Hill” will undoubtedly serve as the soundtrack to 75 percent of photo montages compiled by this year’s high school and college seniors. Queue it up at a graduation party, and it will likely strum a few emotional chords. Or perhaps you’re jonesing for some audio nostalgia porn — in that case, “Castle On the Hill” could be your jam. But as Billboard’s Taylor Weatherby observes, the song carries strong—and, I would argue, unpalatable—hints of Train. It moreover includes flagrantly asinine lyrics. Consider the following:
“We found weekend jobs, when we got paid / We’d buy cheap spirits and drink them straight / Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long, oh how we’ve grown / But I can’t wait to go home.”
Ah yes, that’s what I miss most about my halcyon youth, too: drunken vomiting.
In any case, if you’d like to listen to the songs, here they are.