Sam Smith’s heart is broken again. But this heartbreak is the most painful so far — they dared to fall in love and lost it all. (Smith’s preferred pronouns are they/their.)
On their 2015 debut “In The Lonely Hour,” they chased a doomed, unrequited love. Two years later, on “The Thrill of It All,” they ran from a bad breakup, taking “The Midnight Train,” “Too Good At Goodbyes” to stay. Now on their third album, “Love Goes,” released Oct. 30, they try to dance away their heartbreak with party songs, leaving only a sliver of authentic, soulful music.
With “Love Goes,” Smith dives more into electronic music than ever before. Most tracks are stereotypical clubbing music, filled with dense, hazy textures, thick synths and repetitive, driving beats. Smith seems to be playing it safe, throwing aside sorrowful confessions for reckless, light-hearted fun. “Can’t you see that all I wanna do / Is get a little wild, get a little high / Kiss a hundred boys and not feel like I’m tied to them,” they sing in “Young,” the opening track.
However, glimmers of genuineness shine through in “Love Goes,” if you listen hard enough to the lyrics. “Another One” is sarcastic and bitter, as Smith sings, “Oh, congratulations / you found the one… I’m not the one, never was the one.” In “Dance (’Til You Love Someone Else),” they open with a confession, “Such a bitter tear to cry / You’re still ruining my life / I’m not over it,” before the song devolves into mindless repetitions of “Guess I’ll dance.” In “So Serious,” before dismissing their true feelings, they admit, “I’ll say it, ‘I get so lonely.’”
These short confessions build to the album’s two stripped-down tearjerkers, “For The Lover That I Lost” and “Love Goes” ft. Labrinth, where Smith’s glorious voice finally emerges from the stifling, noisy synths.
“For The Lover That I Lost” is a tragic, nostalgic tribute, originally released by Celine Dion in 2019 on “Courage.” Dion’s rendition is particularly moving, considering the death of her husband René Angélil in 2016. She reminisces, “All of the memories feel like magic / All the fights they seem so sweet / All that we were, my love, was tragic.” The chorus, “So I lay a dozen roses for the lover that I’ve lost,” is filled with visceral pain and loss. Yet, Smith surpasses even Dion’s expressiveness — his delivery is dynamic and soulful, weaving together broken whispers and dazzling belts.
“Love Goes” ft. Labrinth is the album’s lasting masterpiece. “Love Goes” reaches the heartbreak heights of “In the Lonely Hour,” yet it is also filled with unexpected strength and maturity. Labrinth’s honeyed, velvet vocals blend seamlessly with Smith’s vulnerable, delicate delivery. Labrinth sings, “You’re broken, I know this, and if you knew it you would love me a whole different way, but that’s how love goes.” Smith replies, “I tried to change you, tried to make you into someone else / I guess the only one I’m foolin’ is my stupid self,” before declaring, “That’s how love goes.” The melodic trill on “goes,” which leans on the top note before cascading down, shows reluctance before falling into acceptance.
These two tracks prove that Smith can still tap into their signature vulnerability and raw authenticity, if they slow down and stop hiding behind walls of electronic sound and careless lyrics. After all, playing it safe may be easier, but that’s not the way real “Love Goes.”
Listen to “Love Goes” here.
Contact CU Independent Arts Editor Izzy Fincher at email@example.com.