Gloria by Sam Smith: A total triumph or glorious mess?

The singer has described the release as ‘like a coming of age’ but it has received mixed reviews.
The singer has described the release as ‘like a coming of age’ but it has received mixed reviews.

The latest album from Sam Smith has prompted mixed reviews from critics with some suggesting it does not quite live up to the promising experimentalism of lead single Unholy.

Gloria is the fourth album from the 30-year-old pop vocalist and features collaborations with Kim Petras, Koffee, Jessie Reyez and Ed Sheeran.

Smith, who identifies as non-binary, has said the record “feels like a coming of age” and helped them “through some dark times”.

The PA news agency’s Imy Brighty-Potts gave the record 4.5 stars out of five and described it as a “glorious portfolio” showing Smith’s “musical versatility and exciting self-exploration”.

A four star review came from the NME whose writer Nick Levine praised the album as “the most surprising, satisfying and vital work of their career”.

He added: “Sam Smith has never sounded better because they’ve never been more themselves.”

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian gave the album three stars and said that while things have changed “there’s still something underwhelming about Gloria: the feeling that it’s more of the same is more prevalent than it should be”.

A three star review also came from Helen Brown of The Independent, who praised Smith’s voice but argued the album is lacking in its songwriting.

She wrote: “Smith’s vocals are, of course, beautiful. Creamy and curvaceous; liquid with emotion.

“But I often feel their voice is searching for tangier tunes to wrap that molten wax around.

“Without any sharpness to offset it, listening to the repeated wobbly rise of Smith’s lovely, dollopy notes can feel like the aural equivalent of watching a lava lamp.”

Will Hodgkinson of The Times gave the record two stars and wrote that it “showcases Smith as a brilliant singer, and someone with a story to tell, but only too willing to let cliche tell it”.

Financial Times writer Ludovic Hunter-Tilney also offered only two stars.

He wrote: “Undone by stuttering songwriting quality, the album can’t consolidate Smith’s leap forward.”

Gloria is out now on Capitol.