Sound — 8
Indie folk rock group Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have been playing the music scene since 2007. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, the band's signature sound, comprised of roots rock, folk, gospel and psychedelic elements, as well as the group's eleven musicians allowed Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to stand out against other up-and-coming folk rock groups of the time period, and landed the band a record deal with Community Records. In 2009, the group released their debut studio album, titled "Up From Below." The album received some moderate exposure, with the song "Kisses Over Babylon" being featured in an episode of "Beavis and Butthead," and the single "Home" becoming a hit in Australia and the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Their 2012 follow-up was even more successful; "Here" debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, and was recognized by Rolling Stone on their Best Albums of 2012 List by coming in at #7. Now, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are looking to do it all again with their new self-titled studio album. The opening song, "Better Days," is a gospel-influenced track that features some high-in-the-mix bass playing and harmonious group backup vocals. The entire piece is very raw sounding, almost like a demo recording as compared to the overly processed material most commonly heard rotating on the mainstream airwaves. "Let's Get High" has lead vocalist Alex Ebert belting out the song title, before the rest of the band kicks into Beatles-mode, complete with synthesizer playing, bright complimentary guitar and a compelling lyrical delivery style. Again, perhaps it is thanks to the mixing, but this track possesses a strengthy classic progressive rock-vibe that is difficult to shake off. Right from the get go, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros give a refreshing performance of '70s indie and progressive rock that takes you by surprise, and leaves you going back and revisiting the same songs for a second listen.
Lyrics — 7
Lead vocalist Alex Ebert gives an impressive performance throughout the band's new self-titled release. When the rest of the band decides to move into classic rock territory instrumentally, Alex ties the entire performance together with his passionate vocal delivery and soaring range. Granted when he tries to hit the high notes in the chorus of "Let's Get High," he has to very nearly scream to hit these same notes and does sound a bit reaching, it doesn't take too much away from the overall listening experience. When he does in fact try to hit these same notes and his personal performance begins to falter, the harmonious backup vocals and synthesizer playing succeed in distracting your attention.
Overall Impression — 8
With their new self-titled album, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros deliver fifteen new tracks soaked in enjoyable progressive rock nostalgia that, as a whole, land a step above their two previous outings and makes for a powerful listening experience. For any fan of the rock bands from the early '70s, this is an album that comes highly recommended. And as always, any established fan of this group should give this album a listen as well.