The new Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros album plays like the soundtrack to the best damn ‘60s road movie never made.

Part indie collective, part gospel-toting hippy cult, part purveyors or pure psychedelic pop, the bulging band – featuring a double-figure collective of musicians – has delivered 12 free-wheeling tracks on the self-titled third album.

With front man Alex Ebert adding production duties to the role of chief songwriter for the first time, this release could be no more true to form.

The man claims this is the band’s "most liberated, most rambunctious" work to date and it does feature all of the elements you’d expect from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – but at times there’s just so much happening that it can take a good deal of sifting to find the gold.

There’s the delightfully eclectic instrumentation, the heartfelt and emotionally-charged lyrical content and that constantly blurred line between pseudo-folk and hook-filled pop that seems to characterise the Californian outfit.

Ebert and co-vocalist Jade Castrinos play off each other beautifully in several tracks, but in none better than the soaring crescendo conclusion to 'Life is Hard'.

Their harmonies aren’t what you might deem classical, but their joy at singing together is impossible to miss and adds a brilliant dynamic to 'Two'. After all, "If we sing together, love will sing along/Two voices carry further than one".

Lead single 'Better Days' is the first track on the album and drips with the overwhelmingly positive vibe that you might expect from the band that delivered breakthrough single 'Home' back in 2009.

Since then they’ve toured the world a couple of times and honed their performance to the point where you get the feeling at least some of the tracks are written to flourish in the live arena – and that, perhaps, you don’t quite get the whole picture on the album version.

That said, Ebert, the wistful journeyman with the beguiling smile, has clearly poured his heart into the album and for anyone wanting to hurry the onset of summer, there’s enough sunshine and light here to do exactly that.


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