Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Does heartbreak trump happiness? Sam Smith’s Love Goes reviewed

Sam Smith (Matt Crossick/PA)
Sam Smith (Matt Crossick/PA)

Young, which introduces Sam Smith’s third album, declares: “If you want to judge me / Then go and load the gun / I’ve done nothing wrong / I’m young.”

It’s a sort of mission statement from the 28-year-old Cambridgeshire singer.

Initially titled To Die For and due for release in June, Love Goes was delayed and retitled in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2019 – Day Two – O2 Arena – London
Sam Smith on stage at London’s O2 Arena (Isabel Infantes/PA)

This cautious approach is reflected in the music.

Love Goes sees Smith drawing on a tumultuous period in which they came out as non-binary (asking to be addressed by the pronouns they/them) and suffered true heartbreak for first time.

Smith has touted the record as their most challenging yet.

In a statement accompanying it, they ask fans to “listen with an open heart”, perhaps suggesting a left-turn.

Yet there is nothing so shocking on Love Goes.

Certainly, Smith pushes beyond the fairly narrow parameters of their previous two records.

Both 2014’s In The Lonely Hour and 2017’s The Thrill Of It All presented Smith as a backlit, neo-soul crooner, rather than a glossy pop superstar.

Their latest record places them firmly in the latter camp.

Smith’s heartbreak from the end of their relationship with 13 Reasons Why actor Brandon Flynn permeates the music.

Dance (‘Til You Love Someone Else) promises fire, with a bubbling synth line and satisfyingly deep kick drum.

It’s perhaps the only song that effectively combines Smith’s gloom with euphoria.

Elsewhere, Smith’s attempts to reconcile their newfound joie de vivre with the “poisoned chalice” of heartbreak sit awkwardly in song-form.

Lyrically, Smith doesn’t stray far from the familiar themes of love and heartbreak.

They do however address their reputation as pop’s saddest star, singing, “God, I don’t know why I get so serious sometimes / Suddenly there’s violins and movie scenes and crying rivers in the street”.

Among forgettable tracks like Kids Again and the cookie cutter Breaking Hearts, Smith still manages to land a few punches.

How Do You Sleep?, released all the way back in July 2019 and included as a bonus track, remains sophisticated and defiant, and Nigerian star Burna Boy offers a complementary voice on the shimmering My Oasis.

It’s only a shame Smith has been unable to replicate that quality across a whole album.

Rating: 6/10

Already a subscriber? Sign in