Release Date: Oct 30, 2020
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Pop, Adult Contemporary, Vocal, Pop/Rock
Opening the album in an anticlimactic fashion, "Young" is a vocal-only track showcasing Smith's vocal range and vibrato over electronically echoed harmonies. Despite the lack of energy in the early moments, the tranquillity does allow for a seamless transition to the recent single "Diamonds", with the slow building track offering the first taste of the upbeat dance energy Smith has come to showcase. Love Goes feels like the first album Smith has had fun with.
In the music video for their surprisingly vibrant single "How Do You Sleep?" Sam Smith, usually the purveyor of masochistic melodrama and sexless shmaltz, blossoms into someone new. Surrounded by half-naked dancers, the British superstar writhes, snarls, and moves their body with coquettish sensuality. It culminates in a hypnotizing choreography sequence where Smith and their dancers mime sleep while, staring deep into the camera, they slowly rock their hips.
S ame as it ever was, heartbreak is bread and butter for the modern multimillion-selling pop star. Where Sam Smith's last album plumbed the depths of a bad breakup, Love Goes hovers on the brink of the acceptance stage. Opener Young sets an audaciously spare tone, Smith's voice doubled by vocoder ghosts as they resolve to "get a little wild, get a little high, kiss a hundred boys and not feel like I'm tied to them".
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam Smith delayed, reworked, and retitled their third album, originally planned for release in May 2020. Love Goes landed that October, and in somewhat anticlimactic fashion appends as bonus tracks most of the lead-up singles, spanning a period of well over two years, careening from the free and easy disco-house of "Promises" to the muddled arena pop of "I'm Ready." Another throw-in is the intended title track. Relegated as it is, "To Die For" -- a gentle piano ballad with Smith longing for idyllic companionship as they gaze at their "solo shadow on a sidewalk" -- fits with the album proper, drawn from the singer's first real-life heartbreak.
Sam Smith has always self-consciously sought to be a big vocalist. The English artist isn't someone to shrink into the corner - citing Gaga and Whitney as key influences, their performances are driven a certain kind of melodrama that is rarely found in modern pop music. At times, though, their work has been dogged by criticisms of being too polite, too down-the-middle, too beige, in fact, and it's this dichotomy - between the extraordinary and the ruthlessly mundane - that marks third album 'Love Goes'.
Sam Smith‘s last album, The Thrill Of It All, was released over three years ago now, but you’d be forgiven if you thought it was a lot more recent than that. For Smith has barely been out of the showbiz news in recent times, whether it be posting selfies of themselves crying during lockdown, or coming out as non-binary and changing their pronouns to they/them (both of which mystifyingly seemed to push Piers Morgan into a very public meltdown). It’s certainly been a strange year, and it’s one that’s affected Smith particularly hard.
The Lowdown: In 2014, London-born Sam Smith broke big into US pop with two singles: "Latch", a compellingly histrionic soul-EDM track with Disclosure; and "Stay with Me", a choir- and piano-backed, naked plea for momentary companionship. These hits reflect Smith's twin signatures as a performer: the spectacular power of their distinctive voice and the effortlessness with which they plumb vulnerability. On their third full-length album, Love Goes, Smith delivers more of these familiar, emotional-pop crescendos designed to soundtrack sentimental feelings on and off the dancefloor.