Yes, it’s porky Sam from Essex, with his body issues and his complex gender pronouns and his endless narcissistic banalities, his depthless self-importance.
This is Smith’s fourth studio album in a career that seems to be nosing a little downhill, mercifully – although it will still sell by the million worldwide. He has recently decided he is genderqueer, rather than just gay. He says he feels like a woman. Me too, mate – but what’s a boy to do?
The good things? Just one. He has a pleasant and flexible tenor voice which, when unadulterated, is capable of carrying a tune – if there were, y’know, tunes. And that’s it. The music, with its usual plethora of co-writers and co-producers and collaborations with people you’d rather not hear from, such as Ed Sheeran, is in two senses a rebuttal of the wisdom of crowds. Astoundingly repetitive even by the standards of modern pop and EDM, nursery-rhyme melodies are sellotaped to cleverly, often sparsely, manufactured beats.
You will never hear a song more boring than ‘Gimme’: it makes ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ sound like the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The single ‘Unholy’ is unabashed Europop, while ‘I’m Not Here to Make Friends’ (with its obnoxious video) is a four-second ad jingle fleshed out for eternity.
The lyrics are the usual lachrymose self-pity and inane grandstanding in equal measure. On the gospel-tinged ‘Love Me More’, he sings: ‘Every day I’m trying not to hate myself.’ Then stop trying, Sam, and join us.