Likeable pop sensation Lewis Capaldi struggles for much more than commercial relevance on his sophomore album. Watch the documentary. Buy the CD. Live on as if Lewis is going to take note. Maybe he does, but the fandom drones march on, a poor review or apathetic listen to Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent an act of war. Denounce first, invade later. Or do neither. Capaldi’s second album comes four years after his first album, a pandemic between the releases makes the passage of time feel ever shorter. But hairs are greying, time is leaving us behind and some of us are now responsible for rent payments. Fuse the brain to feed the soul on another empty selection of heartfelt pop pieces.
Terrible it may be that Capaldi wastes a commendable singing voice and steady range on lyrics as abject and TikTok-ready as this, it appeals to the audience which he sets out to pitch to. But music should not be a pitch. There is no doubt Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent is heartfelt, buried under all those writing credits and boardroom meetings to make sure progress is hitting Ed Sheeran levels of commerciality, hence the Netflix documentary. Within that documentary, and moments of opening track How This Ends is a real statement from Capaldi, it is washed away on a wave of predictable chords and soppy rises, though. Siege the charts through that broad pop likeability offered to those with personalities by artists and bands who have no chance of competing with Broken by Desire to be Heavenly Sent. They are broken by their budget, staying in their lane.
For if they don’t they will absolutely be steamrolled by the string-clad emptiness of this record. Capaldi is shoved out the way of his own record, to focus on the relatability of contemporary pop. He does not fight to present himself, instead giving into the emptiness of broad fields. Still, with momentum like that it is not long before he pens a James Bond theme. Lingering moments of that can be heard on each and every dull, over-produced track, where the mix oversees mood, not the singer. John Lewis Christmas advert music in time for summer. Wish You The Best may throw David Bradley into its music video but he leaves no impact on the simple and spotty attempts made through the piano-rushed emptiness. Third track Pointless is, well, apt. Capaldi is saved from “original sin,” as he puts it on Heavenly Kind Of State Of Mind. But within that is originality and the devilish risk of interesting music.
Not disingenuous, just dull. Maybe it is a bit of the former too considering the Phil Plested and a slate of other writers are drafted in like a platoon sent on a surefire onslaught. Overhauling Capaldi’s miserably obvious observations and trying to bring some unique or punchy chart light to the difficulties of millions comes across as swaggeringly glib and not at all fitting of the times. Capitalisation of emotionally wrought experiences are hard to swallow for those who know better, but for those who lap Capaldi’s latest up, it is hard to see how they can connect to the real world through anything but easy-to-understand pop culture basics. He’ll bring you heaven if that is what you need, as he warns on Love The Hell Out of You. No bonus points for figuring out what the concept is behind that, or any of these songs. Miserably plain and appealing to the largest denomination. No risks taken, no art earned. Manufactured misery for the inevitable demographic.