Album review: 'Gloria' by Sam Smith

Sam Smith returns with their fourth album that is filled to the brim with pop magic....

Elsa Tarring
14th February 2023
Credit: Pixabay
Sam Smith’s Gloria is as unapologetically raw as it is foot-tappingly catchy.

Of Sam Smith’s four albums, Gloria is the third to reach number one in the charts. Despite this success, it’s for their music video for ‘I’m Not Here to Make Friends’ that they’ve made headlines recently. Dressed in a decadent sequined corset and nipple tassels, Smith has since been victim of a flurry of fatphobic and queer phobic comments on social media, the video criticised for what many claim to be “vulgar” and “oversexualised” content. Putting this backlash to one side, the song has, I would argue, all the elements required for an objectively good pop song: it’s got a great bassline, hints of strings, a strong chorus, and even the occasional blast of 80s synth.

Credit: YouTube @Sam Smith

And the bangers don’t stop there. Smith is joined by artists like Jessie Reyez and Kim Petras to produce more undeniable earworms, one of which, ‘Unholy’, has done the rounds on TikTok and now has almost 800 million streams on Spotify. But the multi award winning singer knows how to strip their songs back too – the up-beat crowd pleasers are interspersed with slower, more vulnerable tracks. ‘Love Me More’, ‘Who We Love’ and ‘How to Cry’ all fit into this bracket, and are more faithful to the emotional ballads we’ve seen from them before, and which their voice lends itself to the most.

Exploring themes like body image, self-confidence and being queer, the album is underscored by a religious motif

Exploring themes like body image, self-confidence and being queer, the album is underscored by a religious motif, not only present in the name of songs like ‘No God’ and ‘Unholy’, but also in the stylistic elements of the music. ‘Gloria’, the twelfth track on the album of the same name, resembles more a hymn than a pop song, arguably contrasting the openly queer and sex-positive messages Smith promotes. It’s partly for the album’s open discussion of queer sex and identity that it’s received so much support from fans. Ultimately, whether you like Smith’s music or not, you can’t deny the positive visibility they give to the queer community.

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