Music, Reviews

Ranking Each of Ed Sheeran’s Studio Albums

On September 29th, Ed Sheeran released his seventh studio album and his second one this year alone. This year, he also had a major worldwide Mathematics Tour, which saw record attendance and ticket sales numbers.

In 2011, Ed Sheeran took the world by storm with the release of his first album, +. In the decade or so since his music has brought people of all backgrounds together for a love of music and community.

His sound has changed throughout the years, but fans have always stuck by him due to the honesty in which all his lyrics are centered. At the start of his career, most of his songs were centered on the hopefulness of being in love or the yearning to find a love worth holding onto.

In more recent years there has been a shift in tone that coincides with Ed Sheeran’s experiences with marriage, fatherhood, and loss.

It’s an honesty that the fans have expected from him since the start and one that the many fans who grew alongside him can relate to. Looking back over his successful career so far, it’s essential to assess which albums were the best and which could’ve used a bit more.

Based on the album’s quality and number of skips, here is our list Ranking Each of Ed Sheeran’s Studio Albums.

1. Subtract – 2023

Subtract - Ed Sheeran

Best Song: End of Youth

In 2022, Ed Sheeran had a challenging year between professional setbacks and personal struggles. Those emotions ring out loud and clear in the best album he’s ever released.

The raw honesty he puts forth in each song resonates strongly with most fans — especially in a post-pandemic world where mental health takes center stage more than ever before. Sheeran’s lyrics across this album speak to both our struggles during times of loss and grief and the underlying hope of finding something worth fighting for.

Songs like No Strings and Curtains remind us that we are never alone in our struggles. If we look hard enough, we will find people around us who want to see us at our best and walk us through our worst.

Whether we are reliving the feeling of love and community with his song Dusty or trying our best to prove that these waves of trouble won’t bring us down by listening to Boat, Sheeran reminds us that our experiences are universal.

No matter what song we focus on, Subtract is an album worth listening to on a loop.

The variety in tonal messaging allows our brains to run the gambit of daily emotions and ultimately helps us to feel better about ourselves. After all, we are here and alive, which is half the battle.

2. Autumn Variations – 2023

Autumn Variations - Ed Sheeran

Best Song: When Will I Be Alright

He is at his strongest whenever Ed Sheeran decides to strip things down and go entirely acoustic. Give the man a guitar and some lyrics; his charm and voice will sweep you away.

That makes Autumn Variations one of the most beautiful albums I have heard in the last five years. Sheeran bares his soul to the world through the words of songs like AmazingPlastic Bag, and That’s On Me, giving us lyrics that speak to insecurities and being okay with not being okay.

The best song on this album, When Will I Be Alright, is a yearning to return to normalcy after an extended period of pain and unrest. It is something that everyone can understand and shows us all that sometimes, even the most put-together people aren’t doing their best.

Of course, songs of joy and hope are scattered throughout this album, but mostly, the tone sticks to that of someone who needs a little extra love and understanding from those around them.

3. Divide – 2017

Divide - Ed Sheeran

Best Song: Castle on the Hill

This album teeters on the edge of overwhelming love and hope. It’s more upbeat than not, but there is still that edge of heavier themes in a couple of the songs.

Some of Ed Sheeran’s most recognizable songs come from this album — PerfectHappierCastle on the Hill, Galway GirlShape of You, and Hearts Don’t Break Around Here.

And while overall, the songs on this album speak to finding a better partner in a current love versus a past one, there are still a couple that look to heavier topics. Save Myself and Supermarket Flowers deal with grief, loss, and adverse mental health, allowing listeners to break between the more upbeat songs.

There are a couple of songs not worth the listen, such as Bibia Be Ye Ye and Eraser, but most of the songs land and beg to be listened to more than once.

4. Equal – 2021

Equal - Ed Sheeran

Best Song: Overpass Graffiti

The fun thing about Equal is that the vibe is consistently fun and exciting. There is a sense that Sheeran finally understands that life has ups and downs, but that doesn’t mean it has to be all good or all bad.

He spends time referencing being more grown-up now, marriage, and fatherhood. The songs CollideTidesShivers, Leave Your Life, and First Times speak to the beautiful, exciting experiences of reaching a new phase in life.

This album has an entirely different vibe from his other Mathematics albums, so for some fans, it’s completely jarring and doesn’t rank as high for them. However, for fans around Sheeran’s age and who grew up with him, this album hits perfectly with the life stage they are currently in.

Fans of Ed Sheeran’s ballads love Love in Slow Motion and The Joker And The Queen, two of the best he’s done in his career. The latter is enhanced by the inclusion of strings in the background.

Much like Divide, this album has a few skips, but overall, Sheeran still manages to draw us in and encourages us to enjoy the album on repeat.

This album also has a few songs that stand out for their more serious tone, such as Overpass Graffiti and Visiting Hours. It shows a more vulnerable side of Sheeran and is an opening for his following two albums: Subtract and Autumn Variations.

5. Add – 2011

Add - Ed Sheeran

Best Song: Give Me Love

For an artist’s debut album, Add is quite spectacular. There are many instant classic hits on it that fans fell hard and fast for the young Ed Sheeran.

Of course, the most synonymous song from this album is The A Team; it’s the single that shot him to superstardom. Even now, over a decade later, the music can get everyone on their feet and singing along during concerts.

However, it’s not the only song worth paying attention to on the album. Lego House first became famous because the music video starred Rupert Grint, who looked very similar to Ed Sheeran at the time, making it something fans across many mediums could love and appreciate.

There is also a song like Small Bump, which covers the topic of miscarriage and infant loss and sets the tone for how honest, raw, and real Sheeran’s lyrics will be moving forward. And You Need Me, I Don’t Need You has become the ultimate self-confidence anthem for many of Sheeran’s fans.

While some songs are not worth the relisten, such as Grade 8 and Wake Me Up, this album also has some fantastic hidden gems. The best is Give Me Love, which is beautiful and sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-worthy in its own right, but the added The Parting Glass to the song’s end adds to the experience.

Add told fans Ed Sheeran was coming for their hearts, one song at a time.

6. Multiply – 2014

Multiply - Ed Sheeran

Best Song: Thinking Out Loud

As we get into Sheeran’s earlier albums, we will find fewer universally recognizable songs. Multiply as an album doesn’t stand out beyond the couple of songs that became instant hits.

The music for the album overall is decent enough, but many of the songs lack that spark to keep them on our minds beyond the initial listen. Fortunately for Sheeran, adding I’m A Mess and Bloodstream to his set list for the Mathematics Tour was a move that brought the songs out of obscurity.

Otherwise, the only songs people remember from this album are Thinking Out LoudPhotographSing, and Don’t. It’s an album full of good vibes that easily misses the mark more than it hits it.

That said, it’s worth remembering that Multiply is only Sheeran’s second studio album, so he still had some growing up to do both as a person and an artist.

7. No. 6 Collaborations Project – 2019

No. 6 Collaborations Project - Ed Sheeran

Best Song: Beautiful People

Any Ed Sheeran fan knows that sometimes his collaborations are worth more excitement than his solo numbers. Look at all the duets he’s done with Andrea Bocelli or Taylor Swift.

Simply put, Ed Sheeran knows how to work well with others. During his Mathematics Tour, he pulled out some of the collaborations from the No. 6 Collaborations Project to perform as solo acts — except Beautiful People, which he was able to perform with Khalid, his opener.

Unfortunately, unless you are a fan of a particular artist, most of the numbers on this album aren’t universally known or liked. I Don’t Care brings Sheeran and Beiber together in a way that doesn’t seem like it should work but pays off big time.

Likewise, Remember the Name with Eminem and 50 Cent shouldn’t be such a banger hit. And yet fans across multiple genres of music find it to be fun and a worthy challenge to sing along to.

That’s the beauty of Ed Sheeran; he can blend himself into just about any genre of music and make magic. If you go to a concert experience, chances are you’ll see one of the most diverse crowds of music lovers — young and old — there jamming along.

 

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Mads is a part-time entertainment journalist and full-time marketing content creator. They love reading the latest in Queer novels -- especially romance ones and watching the latest dramas, sci-fi/fantasy, Star Wars, and romcom films/TV shows. You can join the conversation by following them on Twitter: @dorothynyc89.

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