Sam Smith has always known how to make us ugly cry, even when we didn’t know we needed to. Their debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’ was an emotional reflection of unrequited love, while their sophomore record ‘The Thrill Of It All’ was a mature exploration of the highs and lows of a relationship.
With their balladry evolving through their songwriting and exploration of live performance, they’ve stepped into more of a pop soundscape with a want to dance through the heartbreak, and create a celebration of these emotions that we all experience. Their third studio album ‘Love Goes’ is the bold and definitive representation of that.
Upon a first listen, the record is quite polarising compared to what you’re used to hearing from them, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s all about growth, and Sam Smith has done a lot of growth and reflection throughout their career. After recently coming out as non-binary, they’ve truly started a new chapter in their journey as a musician and as a person, and ‘Love Goes’ cements that.
The album is a journey of these highs and lows, similar to ‘The Thrill Of It All’ thematically, but they’ve instead taken a different sonical approach to represent that.
Opening with the acapella ‘Young’, Smith sings about the mistakes they’ve made throughout their life, especially in the limelight at the start of their career. It’s a very simple, poignant and beautiful track that hears only vocoder adding any production elements to the track. Then leaning into the groove injected ‘Diamonds’, they unveil the fulfilled new sound that they’ve spent the last couple years experimenting with.
‘Another One’ is an early and immediate standout that manages to effortlessly capture the contrast of intense emotion within this new sound, making it a song you’ll want to simultaneously dance and cry along to. Reflecting on watching your ex move on with someone else post break-up while you’re still processing, there is an overwhelming sense of bitterness mixed with relief.
“Oh, congratulations, you found the one, you found the one. I think I can finally face that I’m not the one, never was the one. God, I dodged a bullet, I ran fast right through it, I love myself too much to fight you. But, oh, congratulations, you found the one, another one” they honestly sing.
‘So Serious’ and ‘Dance (’Til you Love Someone Else)’ keeps the production bright and experimental as you dance through the heartbreak with them, but on the other side of the spectrum, ‘Breaking Hearts’ is the balladry Sam Smith we are well acquainted with. The simple piano ballad is emotionally stunning, and will have your heart aching immediately as they sing; “While you were busy breaking hearts, I was busy breaking. I was giving all my love, you were busy taking”. It’s a moment of raw reflection, that I didn’t know I personally needed.
‘For The Lover That I Lost’, ‘Forgive Myself’ and the title track ‘Love Goes’ featuring Labrinth continue the raw representation of these emotions before the anthemic closing track ‘Kids Again’ gives a Harry Styles influenced production moment.
From start to finish ‘Love Goes’ is a journey of exploration, not just sonically but also lyrically. It may be a little different to what you expect from them musically, but that’s growth, and you will find yourself immersed in the emotion that is highlighted throughout the record.