Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are leading a 21st century hippie revolution with sprawling, jangly folk-rock.
The 10-or-more-person collective formed in 2007, with some vague back story featuring front man Alex Ebert taking on the alter ego of Sharpe, a musical savior preaching peace and love. With ambitions that don't seem much different than a cult leader's, this is a band on a mission to take over the world and reshape it, mostly as a place, in Ebert's words from this record's second song, that's "high on love."
The band seems to want to be all of 1967 at once — the Beatles, Motown, Hair and an endlessly dawning Summer of Love — but for all the ambition wrapped up in the band's worldview and this musically overloaded third album, what Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros too often lacks are the sort of melodies and sentiments that united in gorgeous simplicity on the instantly captivating breakthrough hit "Home."
The closest ESATMZ comes is on the closing song duo of "Remember to Remember," featuring the fetching Jade Castrinos on lead vocal, and "This Life," which begins as a gospel-tinged ballad before surging with the record's best deployment of Ebert's energy.
At its best, the album finds a cohesive way to draw forth some catchy and memorable songs. At its worst, the album is indulgent, overwrought and obnoxiously scattered. Generally though, the album is perhaps mostly like a hippie commune, a beat-of-its-own drum affair, ramshackle and disorganized, with oddly comforting moments along the way.