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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Review: Sam Smith’s ‘Gloria’

Sam+Smith
Creative Commons
Sam Smith

Rating: 6/10

Sam Smith’s Gloria is a heartfelt cry of sexual liberation and newfound self-confidence.

Released on Friday, Jan. 27, “Gloria” (2023) is the British singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album, following their 2020 release, “Love Goes.” The album, which includes features from artists like Jessie Reyez, Kim Petras, Koffee and Ed Sheeran, interestingly showcases Smith’s experimentation with genre, maintaining a fairly cohesive theme across the majority of the tracks.

In its stronger moments, “Gloria” produces catchy and thematically complex commentary on sexuality, self-love and general vulnerability, emphasizing Smith’s vision for the project as a work of long-awaited personal freedom. Its weak moments, however, display fairly simplistic songwriting and generic sounds, unfortunately indicating that not all of this album is up to par with the complex concepts and larger-than-life essence that it is based upon. 

Personally, I see tracks “Lose You,” “No God” and “I’m Not Here To Make Friends” as the album’s triumphs. “Lose You,” which acts as a perfect heartbreak dance-pop anthem, strongly illustrates pain and desperation while simultaneously showcasing a strong beat that would be enjoyable in any club scene. “No God” delves into the subject of god-complexes while demonstrating a strong production, and “I’m Not Here To Make Friends” utilizes a catchy hook and RuPaul sample to create an impressive and on-theme track. 

The album’s interludes, which include “Hurting Interlude” and “Dorothy’s Interlude” are also impactful elements of “Gloria,” offering nuanced references to queerness through samples of Sylvia Rivera, Judy Garland and Divine, while also incorporating historical events such as the Stonewall riots and New York’s first gay-pride parade. 

“Gloria’s” weaker moments manifest themselves in the form of “How To Cry,” “Perfect” feat. Jessie Reyez, “Gimme” feat. Koffee & Jessie Reyez and the all too familiar “Unholy” feat. Kim Petras. 

“How To Cry” utilizes several instances of simplistic and undeveloped songwriting such as “I don’t know when you’re sad, I can’t tell when you’re mad,” to attack a topic that requires more depth than basic rhyme schemes. Similar issues occur with “Perfect,” —  which is also rather repetitive — and “Who We Love,” which features lyrics that almost feel too simple for the emotionally dense topic it is discussing. “Gimme,” while catchy at times, is also repetitive and will most likely be a polarizing track in terms of those who enjoy it and those who do not. 

Lastly, the infamous “Unholy” feat. Kim Petras doesn’t really feel like it belongs on this album. While it has its share of accolades, including the title of Best Pop Duo/Group Performance from this year’s Grammys, it sticks out amongst the rest of “Gloria” in a jarring manner. It also unfortunately fell victim to the trap of Tik Tok trends, resulting in a song that was painfully overplayed before “Gloria” was even released. Despite this, Smith and Petras’ “Unholy” does merit its well deserved attention as the track that made the duo the first openly-transgender and non-binary artists to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Petras the first openly transgender woman to receive a Grammy.

“Gloria,” while containing its weak points, is an overall enjoyable and thematically powerful fourth studio album. In what appears to be Smith’s most introspective and soul-bearing work yet, “Gloria” not only offers an incredible liberation for the singer, but may also set the tone for many of their future projects.

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