Ed Sheeran debuts new singles for anticipated upcoming album

English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran released two new singles this past Friday, signaling the end of a three-year hiatus since the release of his second album x. The singles are currently building anticipation for his upcoming album ÷ (pronounced “divide”). “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” are the first two singles for the 2017 album from the “Thinking Out Loud” singer-songwriter. Since topping the iTunes charts and breaking Spotify’s one-day streaming record, Sheeran’s highly anticipated releases mark the beginning of a new era in the singer’s career.

“Shape of You” is a song about a budding romance. Sheeran cleverly utilizes marimba sounds in the song to create a tropical house sound, a pop subgenre that has recently grown in popularity among artists such as Justin Bieber and Sia. “Shape of You” resembles Sheeran’s 2014 single “Sing” in structure and flow, but is smoother in tone.

A likely charting single, Sheeran harnesses his songwriting talent with catchy lyrics. “I’m in love with the shape of you / We push and pull like a magnet do,” he sings in the chorus. While the song does not fully showcase Sheeran’s songwriting talent, it isn’t unlike “Sing” among other songs that prelude to an album release, in which the upbeat pop loops complement and contrast his variety of works.

On the other hand, “Castle on the Hill” is an ode to Sheeran’s native county of Suffolk and is lyrically nostalgic as he illustrates his youth and adolescence in the place he describes as home. Sheeran references milestones in his life that occurred over the locations in the Suffolk setting that the title references, and while times have changed and he and friends have grown, he “can’t wait to go home.”

The song’s production style is influenced by both a stadium-rock sound and U2, with some pop undertones that might make a listener hear some resemblance to “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams. With Benny Blanco — who is coming off recent successful collaborations with The Weeknd, Major Lazer and Tory Lanez — credited as producer, the song is sure to be another hit.

Although Sheeran has not announced an official release date for ÷, Sheeran has been much more active since the time of his last album’s release. For almost a year, the “Thinking Out Loud” singer halted activity on social media. In December, the star hinted at the prospect of new music by posting several photos and videos of the album’s theme. Sheeran also appeared on BBC Radio 1 and discussed potential live appearances, which could include the United Kingdom’s Glastonbury Festival.

Sheeran’s upcoming album is likely to build upon the styles he is known for in his previous albums and showcase his songwriting talent, as well as experiment with the countless artists he has been able to collaborate with since achieving mainstream success. He lists influences such as Damien Rice, The Beatles and Bob Dylan, whose sounds are evident in much of his rock and folk-influenced work.

This next album, ÷, is expected to be Sheeran’s most spotlighted release yet, and these influences should culminate in another authentic and ingenious work from the acclaimed singer-songwriter.