Hailed as the "male Adele" and making the most of the hype from his guest spot on Naughty Boy's La La La, Sam Smith makes his own name with his new album, In the Lonely Hour. On it, Smith sings of love lost and unreturned and does it with conviction despite "never having the chance to fall in love".
The opening track, Money on My Mind, presents with startling honesty the pressure of debuting in the music industry, with Smith crooning: "When I signed my deal, I felt pressure/ Don't wanna see the numbers". The tune's snappy percussion and punchy piano synths are fun, but it's the ballads that really shine on this album.
In Leave Your Love, Smith pines for a love interest who doesn't appreciate him.
Smith adopts a "more is more" principle, compacting a surprising amount into each song. There is rarely a moment when his voice isn't falsetto and vibrato at the same time.
The tone of the album is slightly depressing, but this 2014 Brit Award winner forces listeners to challenge their notions of love, and to face pain in a different way.