Alex Ebert is, among many things, a master of reinvention. With Ima Robot in the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, he was an art-punker with an asymmetrical haircut. Then, with the rise of communal indie folk in the late 2000s, he reformed himself in the mold of Edward Sharpe, a shamanistic messiah with a merry band of pranksters meant to bring about hippy-style good vibes. But now, as that style falls out of grace, Ebert has once again found cause to shift gears with his band.

Look no further than the red lines drawn through the name "Edward Sharpe" to understand where the Magnetic Zeros hopes to take their fourth LP. PersonA is the first for the group without stellar vocalist Jade Castrinos, who left (or was forced out, depending on interpretation) under contentious circumstances. But in an artistic music market that has embraced jazz and experimentation (see: To Pimp A Butterfly and Blackstar), the group makes it clear from the outset of PersonA that they want to find acceptance in the same group.

The album was recorded at a recording studio in New Orleans that Ebert recently purchased. Ebert told Rolling Stone that he felt the "egalitarian ideal" that had sparked the Magnetic Zeros was no longer working as he "was taking eight-tenths of the song burden as far as songwriting and yet splitting evenly the money." So the underlying narrative of PersonA is that the group eschewed the "Edward Sharpe" side of things to emphasize the idea of the musicians coming together. PersonA is an attempt to convince listeners they are listening to something more genuine by supplanting the old non-musical narrative with a new one.

Admittedly, the Magnetic Zeros can still make a pleasant sounding tune. The album's lead single and first track, 'Hot Coals,' is a 7-minute epic that starts out sounding like your typical Edward Sharpe track before transforming into a psych folk track that sounds like the Magnetic Zeros mated with Photay. It certainly is an interesting listen.

But as the album presses on, much of the experimentation begins to fall flat. The "off the wall" noises that clutter up many of the tracks have been heard elsewhere and employed far better. Before long, other things start to fall off the tracks as well. Ebert's preachy lyricism on tracks like 'Uncomfortable' ("Uncomfortable, you've got to get uncomfortable!" he repeats enough times to make you uncomfortable and annoyed, amongst other things) could wear listeners down quickly.

It is also hard not to notice the glaring absence of Castrinos. Although Edward Sharpe did have a significant kitschy aura about them, the interplay between Castrinos and Ebert made for some truly breathtaking moments. The first half of 2009's Up From Below and some of the bouncier jaunts on 2012's Here, especially 'That's What's Up,' will stand as highlights of the indie folk era that dominated those few years in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Ebert's vocals are pleasant, but across PersonA's 45-minute runtime, they begin to fall stale.

The album's true highlight comes close to the end on 'Lullaby,' a piano-driven ballad to Ebert's daughter. His musings upon the worries of raising a child in a scary world are familiar, yet still lovingly sweet and they are complimented beautifully by a gorgeous piano and his own superb vocal melody.

Still, PersonA is an album based largely around Ebert's continued drive to reinvent himself to appease a particular audience. Unfortunately, the Magnetic Zeros and their brand of music is not one well suited to the audience they were attempting to find this time around.