Ever since Ed Sheeran broke his Twitter silence back in December, fans knew something was coming and started to ponder which mathematical symbol the singer would choose for his next album. Then, on New Year’s Day, it was confirmed: new music would be released today and all hints seemed to point towards the album being called Divide. This morning, not one but two songs were released by the artist – Shape of You and Castle on the Hill.

Photo: Eva Rinaldi on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/.
Photo: Eva Rinaldi on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/.
The decision to release two singles was a wise one for the You Need Me, I Don’t Need You singer. After announcing a year-long social media hiatus, fans wanted a reminder of what they’ve missed, as well as something new to look forward to. Shape of You is the former, Castle on the Hill is the latter.

In a press release, Ed said: “I really wanted to show two different sides to my music that I’m equally as passionate about and I just knew I wanted to roll with two songs at the same time.”

With a consistent synth melody which sounds very similar to Cheap Thrills (as some Twitter users remarked when a brief preview of the track was shared on the social media site), there’s no doubt that this track is the pop song of the two – the laid-back rhythm creating the bouncy feel which clearly fit in to the genre which is currently dominated by tropical grooves.

It’s familiar ground for fans of Ed’s two previous albums, + and x. Clear looped instrumentals – thanks for his trusty loop pedal – underlay fluttering and flowing lyrics, which have led some to wonder if he is rapping on the track (which the musician would probably reply that he’s “a singer with a flow”). With soft, mumbling vocals, Shape of You is an obvious nod towards Sheeran’s previous works, with a subtle hint of progression in his unique style. However, the contrast and signs of the singer’s development is shown in the second release, Castle on the Hill.

For those who may want a more punchy release, this track, with ‘Springsteen-esque riffs’, may be what they were looking for. Sheeran’s light vocals are unique and calming, but from time to time, these must be balanced with ‘louder’ tracks. Thankfully, the driving guitar (which is probably more Kings of Leon than Bruce Springsteen) provides that, alongside pounding drums and a soulful chorus. It’s a promising development for the singer, as we await the release of Divide.

It’s a powerful song which has even more emotion attached to it through the lyrics, which “pays a homage to growing up in the English countryside town of Framlingham, Suffolk”. Castle on the Hill possesses this blissful nostalgia which juxtaposes the poppy Shape of You. It’s one of those tracks which evokes memories of our childhood, so it’s no surprise that fans on social media are finding it the most moving song of the two.

Soulful and mellow, pop and rock – the comparisons will continue as listeners try to predict the direction Divide will take. Nevertheless, the two singles are the perfect way for the 25-year-old to show fans that all-important progression, whilst demonstrating that his brilliant and unique style is strong and unfaltering. A sense of intrigue is also apparent within the fanbase. These two releases have got them excited, but what they want now is more information about the album. For now, they shall have to wait and see.