Following up their 2009 debut album “Up From Below,” Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes are continuing their reign in the hippie folk sphere that they created for themselves. Sailing under the indie radar for months, the Zeroes finally achieved fame with their catchy ballad “Home.” With sophomore album Here, the ten-piece shows that they were no one-hit wonder. While staying true to their 70s folk roots, the album sounds fresh and innovative. So how does a band break out of a genre that they created for themselves? Redefine it.
The album, barely forty minutes in length, kicks off with “Man on Fire.” The song is a huge departure from the band’s previous singles. The song begins melancholy vocals, with a reminiscent of a thoughtful Johnny Cash. Haunting harmonies between lead singers Jade and Alexander loom over the listener creating an almost eerie ambience. The lengthy song remains fresh by alternating between sparse orchestration and intricate arrangements. The song channels the endearing call-and-response between Jade and Alexander that was featured in “Home.” The singers’ voices eventually build into a cheery hippie groove, signaling the return of the whimsical Magnetic Zeroes that we all know and love.
“I Don’t Wanna Pray” is a hokey track with heavy Americana overtones that almost become satirical, but lyrics like “I don’t wanna pray to my maker/ I just wanna be what I see” lend seriousness to an otherwise comically contrived song. But the overblown twangs add to the charm that makes Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes so appealing. Like carefree Woodstock nymphs that enchanting listeners and dancing in the pale moonlight of their commune. From the sit-around-the-campfire melody to its insightful lyrics, the Zeroes show their musical versatility, however misguided, with “I Don’t Wanna Pray.”
The album develops with full-bodied Beatles-esque tracks. Soaring harmonies and heavy use of brass instruments harken back to arrangements of the early 70s. “Here” marks a transition into a more industrial sound, heavy in electric guitar and modern influences while still maintaining the airy qualities that make the band so unique.
“Child” is the most grounded and mellow track of the album and is sure to be a fan favorite. Bob Dylan-inspired acoustic finger picking combined classic folk music techniques keep the song grounded. Bass drum resonates in the background and adds a necessary weight in order to ground the song. Simple composition showcases the mass of talent present in this monstrously large hippie folk machine. Emotionally tender vocals are soft yet still demand attention and leave the listener begging for more than the three minutes of thoughtful musical reflection.
“Here” wraps with the longest song on the album “All Wash Out,” and ends the brief album on an introspective note. Continuing with spare arrangements and clean vocals, lead singer Alexander allows his falsetto and casual whistling entrance the listener. The soft patter of falling rain interjects throughout the song and offers a sense of tranquility as the song builds with melancholy horns (not unlike The National) and dark lyrics.
The flower power ten-piece’s debut album title “Up From Below” was indicative of their rise to fame. And it is the same case with “Here.” Edward Sharpe and his nine hippie comrades have indeed arrived, they are here.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes – Here tracklist:
- “Man on Fire”
- “That’s What’s Up”
- “I Don’t Wanna Pray”
- “Dear Believer”
- “One Love To Another”
- “Fiya Wata”
- “All Wash Out”