Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
8
Alex Ebert might fit the profile of other southern California musical cult figures like Devendra Banhart and Anton Newcombe, but the sheer passion he has put into leading the traveling circus that is Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros has quickly set him apart and propelled the group to national prominence. After years of trial and error in previous musical guises, Ebert undoubtedly senses this third Edward Sharpe full-length could finally be his moment; it bears all the earmarks of a potentially career-defining statement, mostly in terms of scale. Melodies are catchier, choruses are bigger, and the kitchen-sink studio approach is channelled in mostly all the right ways. The album's tone is best summed up in "Life Is Hard," probably the most uplifting song you'll ever hear based on that idea. The juxtaposition of Ebert's dark visions and bold, psychedelic explorations are consistently fascinating, especially when they gel ("If I Were Free") and by some measure even when they don't ("In The Lion"). It's tempting to immediately dismiss these missteps as typical California excess (see Fleetwood Mac's Tusk), but what no one can criticize Ebert for is the conviction behind his musical choices. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros is far from flawless, but it falls squarely in the tradition of great albums that seemingly could only have been made by L.A. weirdoes. (Vagrant/Universal)