But Sam’s music is what matters most – and no fan of the multi-platinum London-born star will feel let down by his fourth studio album. Gloria is less gloomy than 2020’s Love Goes, beautiful in places, and packed with surprises.
The title track is hymn-like and majestic. Quite superb.
Love Me More opens like one of Smith’s trademark tender ballads before the kick and snare drums elevate it to a melancholy, mid-tempo boom-bap gem.
The lyrics are a perfect fit for a self-obsessed zoomer generation struggling to overcome self-loathing. “Have you ever felt like being somebody else?” asks Sam, his voice loaded with emotion. “Feeling like the mirror isn’t good for myself, every day I’m trying not to hate myself…”
Unholy, a smash-hit collaboration with Kim Petras, finds the duo relating the raunchy story of a cheating husband – “dirty, dirty boy” – over a deliciously intense beat.
The minor chord Middle Eastern feel gives it an edge of intrigue and danger. It’s Sam who’s lusting on I’m Not Here To Make Friends – 80s-style dance, produced by Calvin Harris.
Lose You is another pacey dance track – upbeat and ethereal, a Kylie-like floor-filler.
Gimme, a collaboration with Jimmy Napes, Jamaican star Koffee and R&B singer Jessie Reyez, is infectious, sexually charged and reggae-flecked with lyrics like “Your eyes on my dun, dun-dun-dun” (unlikely to be a Bake-Off reference).
Six Shots is randy and soulful, while No God is more old-school Smith as he celebrates his out-and-proud sexuality.
The album’s closing track, Who We Love with Ed Sheeran, is a tender piano ballad that washes over you, covering similar ground.
As Sam sings on Perfect: “I’m not perfect, but I’m worth it.”