After being delayed, re-written and given a new name, it’s official — Sam Smith’s new album, Love Goes, is finally here.
Described by the singer as their “first proper heartbreak album,” Love Goes sees Smith embracing their favourite themes of lost love, this time dialling up the insight they offer through their searing songwriting to 11.
The strongest part of Smith’s album remains the same as with all their previous work — their voice reigns supreme, delivering blissful falsetto notes along with sombre baritone melodies, all imbued with the pained emotion they aim to portray.
Love Goes offers something slightly more updated for Smith’s sound, as well. While many of the album’s songs follow a similar ballad formula to the majority of songs off of In the Lonely Hour or The Thrill Of It All, a number of the tracks offer Smith’s own interpretation of the “crying-on-the-dancefloor” sub-genre.
From deep house tracks to crowd-pleasing dance-pop songs, Love Goes sees Smith offering more variety than ever before in their career.
But which songs reign supreme on the star’s new album?
Below, check out Billboard’s ranking of all 17 tracks off of Sam Smith’s Love Goes:
17. “So Serious”
The lyrical content of “So Serious” sees Smith taking a break from singing about heartbreak, which is a welcome change on an album filled with songs about that exact emotion.
Hearing Smith tackle their anxiety and depression is a welcome change of pace, and the opening line “Put your hands in the air/ If you sometimes ever get sad like me” is just cheesy enough that it almost becomes endearing.
That being said, the song is nothing terribly new — the beat and melody sound a bit old hat, and the song sounds like one added to fill out the album’s 57-minute runtime.
16. “For the Lover That I Lost”
Though Celine Dion may have released her rendition of “For the Lover That I Lost” first on 2019’s Courage, Smith flexes their co-writing credit on the track with their own version of the track.
It’s classic Sam Smith; subtle pianos and strings accompanying their powerhouse voice as they sing about the pain of losing out on love. In short, it’s a lovely, if not forgettable, rendition.
15. “Fire on Fire”
Smith’s single off of the soundtrack to Netflix’s miniseries adaptation of Watership Down, “Fire on Fire,” feels just a tad out of place on Love Goes. The song is beautiful — a touching love song where Smith declares their undying love for their partner, singing “They say that we’re out of control and some say we’re sinners/ But don’t let them ruin our beautiful rhythms.” But on an album full of songs about pain and independence, “Fire on Fire” sticks out as a slightly unnecessary addition.
14. “Breaking Hearts”
Here, we get to see Smith offer up some petty shade to their ex. While other tracks on the album see Smith wallowing in anguish, “Breaking Hearts” is all about Smith giving one last middle finger to their former lover; lyrics like “While you were busy breaking hеarts, I was busy breaking/ I was giving all my love, you were busy taking,” Smith leaves little to the imagination. The light, easy accompaniment makes the song an easy listen, and perhaps a bit dull — but “Breaking Hearts” scratches a more vindictive itch that we’ve wanted to hear from Smith.
13. “Promises” (Calvin Harris feat. Sam Smith)
It may be a bit strange to have a song from more than 2 years ago by another artist as the final bonus track of your third album. But here, it makes sense — while many hail “Dancing With a Stranger” as Smith’s official transition toward pure pop, the truth is “Promises” came first. The tune fits the record’s sound, Calvin Harris’ production adds a nice kick to the album’s finish, and Smith offers a final tip of the hat to the song that helped get them into their latest era.
12. “I’m Ready (feat. Demi Lovato)”
To be frank, “I’m Ready” just cannot decide what it wants to be. With a stellar guest appearance in Demi Lovato and an intriguing verse structure, the track offers a lot of promise from the jump. The driving beat, mixed with some dark vocals from both Smith and Lovato, promises to build into a pop explosion — but throughout the chorus, the track fizzles. Gone are those deafening trap beats, now replaced with soothing piano chords and a gospel choir. It’s a bit all over the place, which only ends up muddling the final product.
11. “Forgive Myself”
Even if you’re tired of hearing sad, downtempo songs about heartbreak from Sam Smith, you still can’t deny that the star is extremely good at making them. While “Forgive Myself” does blend into the rest of the album’s lovelorn ballads, there’s still something deeply satisfying about hearing Smith peel away all the layers of their performance to deliver a raw piece of healing.
On its face, “Diamonds” has every marking of an excellent pop single in 2020 — Smith’s vocals are on point, the production is clean, the hook is deeply catchy, and the video offers am remarkable dance routine. When compared to previous singles in the same vein, “Diamonds” may fall a bit short of the mark, but there is no doubt that if you’re looking to have a cry while dancing along to some heartbroken pop, “Diamonds” makes a fine choice.
9. “Kids Again”
On this late track, Smith completely switches up their style once again — they’re not aiming for the overwrought piano ballad, nor are they gunning for a dance-pop jam. “Kids Again” borders on folksy, with Smith looking back across each of their previous songs, thinking about their lost relationship, and letting it go. Instead of offering a middle ground between their two distinct sounds, Smith firmly creates yet another new musical avenue they can stroll down, and honestly, it works exceptionally well.
8. “Love Goes” (feat. Labrinth)
Easily the most interesting of the album’s many ballads, Love Goes‘ title track sees Smith and singer/producer Labrinth playing off of one another as two exes, quick to blame the other for the relationship’s dissolution. The song’s distinctive piano orchestrations (the song’s original title, “Love in C Major,” feels appropriate) offer a constant stream of intrigue throughout the track, as it slowly devolves from a simple duet to an onslaught of horns, strings, synths and beats in the song’s unexpected coda.
Sam Smith is at their best when they let their vocals shine. “Young” accomplishes that goal by providing absolutely no instrumental backing, save for the 28-year-old star’s voice played back through a vocoder. With haunting harmonization, “Young” serves as a good opener for the album, letting the listener know that they’re getting both a new, more pop-focused Smith, while also maintaining a lot of the sad love song energy of the singer’s past work.
6. “To Die For”
The original title track of the album, “To Die For” encapsulates the entirety of Love Goes, with Smith wishing for the kind of love that you read about in storybooks, and instead being stuck in a frustrating pattern of heartbreak. The single walks a very fine line between a typical heartbreak ballad and sad dance-pop — while there are very occasional stumbles along the way, “To Die For” ultimately brings you over the finish line, leaving you misty-eyed and thankful for the ride.
5. “Dance (‘Til You Love Someone Else)”
Simply put, “Dance (‘Til You Love Someone Else)” should have been a single. This club-ready, deep-house anthem offers something completely different from Smith’s past work, with the singer making a desperate plea to those around them to help numb the pain they’re feeling. The dark, brooding undertones, mixed in with Smith’s killer delivery, makes “Dance” an early highlight of the album.
4. “My Oasis” (feat. Burna Boy)
Smith’s excellent Burna Boy collaboration “My Oasis” serves as a bridge of sorts — connecting their old sound of soulful, starry-eyed, love-lost ballads, to a more updated, worldly mixture of dance-pop and afrobeats, “My Oasis” is a successful entry point for those attempting to understand Smith’s new era. Burna Boy’s verse stands alone as the best feature on the record, with the Nigerian superstar offering something entirely different from Smith that still fits the song’s tone and message.
3. “How Do You Sleep?”
Much like “Dancing With a Stranger” before it, “How Do You Sleep?” stands as a perfect example of Smith putting their best foot forward. On an album that aims for a more pure pop sound, few songs hit the mark quite like this one — from its shifting, amorphous production to the stunning clarity of Smith’s voice, “How Do You Sleep?” still manages to find its way into the recesses of your brain and play non-stop. It’s one of Smith’s best, even if it made a promise that the album as a whole wasn’t quite able to keep.
2. “Another One”
This entrancing single, co-produced by frequent Sam Smith collaborator Guy Lawrence of Disclosure, is exactly the right lane for Love Goes. Smith perfectly balances their downtempo pop ballad sensibilities with the dance-pop they aimed to emulate, creating a gorgeous, trance-inducing track that will hypnotize you into feeling Smith’s pain. The subdued production allows Smith’s vocals to shine yet again, with their effortless soprano floating gracefully over the rest of the song. “Another One” will easily be the song that lodges itself in your brain and refuses to let you stop humming it.
1. “Dancing With a Stranger” (w/ Normani)
When Sam Smith first released “Dancing With a Stranger” way back in early 2019, fans like me got excited – here was Sam Smith taking on pure dance-pop with fellow icon Normani in a near-perfect pop single. From beginning to end, “Dancing With a Stranger” is the perfect blend of Smith’s classic, soulful sound, with their newer, “let’s go clubbing while crying” sensibility. Normani’s feature remains flawless, the lyrics still hit home, and even close to two years after its initial release, “Dancing With a Stranger” still stands head and shoulders above much of the rest of Love Goes.
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