Written By: Sam Marshall
Smith continues to dominate neo-crooner genre.
Originality: (4.0 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (5.0 / 5) Lyrics: (4.0 / 5) Production: (5.0 / 5) Average: (4.5 / 5)
The long-awaited second album from Sam Smith was released this week, and is no change to form for him.
The Thrill Of It All is in very much the same format as Smith’s debut album three years ago, In the Lonely Hour, but takes a much more stylized, in-depth approach. Where ITLH was a self-deprecating piece exploring the trials and heartbreak of breakup and being “the other guy”, The Thrill Of It All maintains the sombre output, but takes a much deeper, emotional tone. Whilst this might seem impossible to do for anyone who listened to the first album and its misery-wallowing, the prospect of Smith coming to terms with his sexuality enables another level of emotional outpouring. This is portrayed well in the centerpiece of the album, “HIM”. Rich with emotion and religious metaphor, “HIM” plays on the religious connotations of Smith’s sexuality and feelings, and is full of theatrical motion, gospel chorus and dark tones.
“HIM” works as the coming-of-age of Smith, and is a much developed, multifaceted improvement of the “Stay With Me” of his first album. While Smith’s confidence and realization of his personal sound are tools for him to further his music, the wallowing in feelings does feel somewhat dreary at times. The general public clearly love the “emotional connection” that they have with Sam Smith, but he does himself a disservice by insisting on keeping the album on the depressing setting. The modern, upbeat “No Peace” collaboration with YEBBA shows what he can sound like, and he undoubtedly will be at the forefront of vocal performance for years to come.
To this extent, a lot of the success of the album must be put down to the flawless production. Most of the album is produced by Jimmy Napes, who worked with Smith on the previous album, as well as the closely linked Disclosure, and this sound is evident across the album. The hip-hop undertones of some of the tracks, including “HIM”, “Pray” and “Scars” bring another dimension to the album, and almost propel it into slow house. Inevitably, because of this we can almost certainly expect club remixes of tracks from the album in the same way that we had from In the Lonely Hour.
The Thrill Of It All is likely to garner many awards and be a high-performing album of 2017, and I look forward to what Sam Smith has to offer the music world. Maybe less of the tearjerkers next time, eh?