Little Sailors have had to wait three long years for Sam Smith’s new album, Love Goes. The star, who last year came out as non-binary (and has stated their preference of being referred to as ‘they’ instead of ‘him’ or ‘her’), decided to take time to make the album more positive and uplifting in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
After re-designing the cover art, renaming the album and making important changes, Love Goes arrives as a contrasting collection of emotional songs that details Sam’s love life, while also including cuts that are more dance-leaning and club-inspired.
The album clocks in at a staggering 17 tracks (six of which were previously released before the album cycle) and showcases some new colors for Sam, while staying true to their signature formula. So, did the changes pay off? Here’s our review of Love Goes songs ranked from worst to first…
17. I’m Ready feat. Demi Lovato
Two big voices in one, empowering song? Sounds like a recipe that couldn’t go wrong, right? Well, that’s what we thought too. But this song somehow throws that theory out the window. I’m Ready is a misfire because it never really figures out its own identity – at first, the song is fast-paced and mysterious, but when the chorus comes around, it turns into a song that sounds like it belongs in a musical.
16. So Serious
So Serious is great for a fun, light breezy listen but beyond that – there’s just not much to it. At its best, it’s a catchy song that shows Sam’s softer side. At its worst, it’s forgettable. The song is missing Sam’s hallmark deep lyrics, and the melody is rather repetitive.
15. My Oasis feat. Burna Boy
Yikes, this one is a little controversial given that My Oasis was chosen as the lead single from the album. The beat is enigmatic and builds a sense of urgency with its almost Flamenco-like, Latin vibes. However, we can’t help feel that this song also short-changes Sam’s talent, to the point where any pop singer with a semi-decent voice could pull it off.
14. Breaking Hearts
In an album with multiple ballads, Breaking Hearts is the weakest one. Understated and chill, Breaking Hearts doesn’t quite soar to the places we wished it would go. Still, it gives Little Sailors more pieces of the puzzle in building the picture of Sam’s recent break up with Brandon Flynn.
13. Dance (‘Til You Love Someone Else)
Nothing quite like a lover scorned! In Dance (‘Til You Love Someone Else), the singer resolves to get over their break up by dancing…until they find someone else. This track makes us want to Vogue and strut on a runway, but it lacks a little pizzazz to make it really pop off.
12. Love Goes feat. Labrinth
The album’s title track showcases some beautiful melodies, and Labrinth is a welcome addition. The duo’s voices in the first three quarters of the song blend in heavenly, but in the song’s final minute, Love Goes suddenly amps up a thousand levels by bringing in strings, horns, annoying chants (“aye! aye! aye!”) and whatever magic was created unfortunately gets rubbed off.
A statement piece of an opening track that only features Sam’s vocals along with some background vocal effects (most likely created through Mi.Mu gloves), Young is a raw track that solidifies Sam’s state of mind through everything that happened in their life recently. “All I want to do is / Get a little wild / Get a little high / Kiss a hundred boys” – you do you, Sam! Adored the idea of the song, but the track could have benefitted from some spare instrumentation that would have really lifted it to the next level.
10. Dancing With A Stranger feat. Normani
Released all the way back in January 2019 – my gosh, time flies – Dancing With A Stranger is already a certified hit. Slinky, mellow and well-produced, Dancing is a likeable track, albeit it a little safe and unmemorable. We’re not sure Normani actually adds anything significant to the track (for the most part, the pair just trade verses and sing the same melodies), but we’re glad Sam got to fulfil their Harmonizer heart with this duet.
The second official single off the album, Diamonds is another revenge track about Sam moving on from their break-up. Self-empowering and radio-friendly, think of this authoritative track as Sam’s groovier version of Rolling In The Deep. Produced by hitmakers Oscar Görres and Shellback, Diamonds definitely has the pedigree to become a big hit for Sam, but it’s still missing some of that ‘Sam Smith shine’ that can be found in their previous hits.
8. Promises feat. Calvin Harris
A track that was released over two years ago, Promises has held up pretty well since then. Dance-ready but somehow haunting and nostalgic (we have to admit the female voice that comes in for ‘tonight?’ as well as her random giggles are a little creepy and unnecessary), Promises is one of the stronger uptempo tracks on the album.
7. To Die For
To Die For was the original title of the album and would have largely set the tone for the rest of the record – and, to be honest, it shows. This track is a lot closer to the core sound and tonality of this album than Love Goes, and is a better representation of what the album actually stands for. Here, we hear Sam back in their comfort zone singing about pining for a lover, exploring emotions of loneliness and asking for a glimmer of hope in their life. Beautiful imagery and buttery vocals make this song a cut above the others that we ranked below it.
6. Another One
As much as Sam tries, it’s undeniable that their strongest tracks are more often than not big, emotional ballads where they bear their soul (see also – Stay With Me, I’m Not The Only One, Too Good At Goodbyes). Another One is a worthy exception. The dreamy, spacey synths in Another One evokes images of floating through air. Euphoric and evocative, the bittersweet message of this song (“I met your boyfriend he’s beautiful / Please treat him like he’s someone”) in tandem with the ethereal music honestly gave us goosebumps.
5. Forgive Myself
Vintage Sam fans, rejoice! Sam starts Forgive Myself with a pretty candid snapshot of their emotions during the aftermath of their breakup. Raw and achingly honest (“Now and then when you cross my mind / It takes me back to a sweeter time / But I let it go”), you better not sleep on Forgive Myself because it’s a track that needs to be heard. Also, massive kudos to you if you get through this song without shedding a tear, because we couldn’t!
4. Fire On Fire
Fire On Fire was also released in 2018 and, upon revisit, it’s as every bit as epic as it is now as it was then. This one especially hits different given the current times because of its rousing, resilient message (“When we fight / We fight like lions / But then we love and feel the truth”) about conquering fear and gaining strength in togetherness. Romantic and powerful, Fire On Fire is signature Sam, but with a higher dose of positivity and inspiration than usual.
3. For The Lover That I Lost
Here it comes – get the tissues ready! By the time For The Lover That I Lost rolls around, Sam goes into full-ballad mode for almost the rest of the album. Little Sailors will find everything they want in this track – classic, quotable lyrics, a swooning melody, gorgeous strings, a beautiful piano accompaniment and of course, those dazzling vocals that make Sam one of the best vocalists of their generation. A timeless track.
2. Kids Again
With the strum of those gentle guitars, Kids Again transports listeners to a wistful, nostalgic time. A little bit reminiscent of a Niall Horan or Harry Styles song – Kids Again is neither an emotional ballad, nor a dance track. Instead, it’s a melancholic, hazy, artful track that will no doubt a be a highlight in Sam’s overall discography. For that reason, it’s our second best song on the album.
1. How Do You Sleep?
Even with all the excitement of the new tracks, How Do You Sleep? narrowly still clinches the top spot as the best song on Love Goes. Nowhere near as commercially successful or universally heralded as Lay Me Down, Writing’s On the Wall or even the comparably less exciting Dancing With A Stranger, this track could possibly be one of Sam’s most underrated tracks in their catalogue.
Fascinating instrumentation? Check. Strong, haunting vocals? Check. Emotionally charged lyrics? Check! Oh, and bonus points for those tantalizingly satisfying adlibs at the end of the song. Yep, this is one’s going to be our favorite for a while.
Love Goes may not be Sam’s strongest album, but fans will still be happy with a brand new collection of songs filled with heart-wrenching ballads and Sam’s trademark vocals. Possibly a victim of pandering to the pandemic a bit too much (he did catch COVID after all!), it’s clear that the weaker tracks on the album are the more dance-oriented ones.
While we’re all for experimentation and evolution, it’s also important for Sam to know what works and what doesn’t. Do you agree? How would you rank these tracks? Let us know in the comments below!