It’s been long awaited – but Scottish crooner Lewis Capaldi’s sophomore album finally hit our streaming platforms on Friday. Titled Broken by Desire to be Heavenly Sent, it’s yet another set of ballads that matches, if not surpasses, his debut. Comprised of 12 tracks, Capaldi once again showcases his lyrical talent while making us feel all the feels.
With inspiration primarily drawn from ‘going out to the world and looking at what’s sh*t’, for all of us struggling homies we already know this album is about to be relatable. Rise of the struggling homies, I say. Lewis is joining our ranks, on the record.
The album opens with ‘Forget Me’, the premiere single which was released in September 2022, and the first taste fans ever received from this new Capaldi era. It was indefinitely relieving as a fan to hear some new tunes from this young artist, who shot to such levels of fame with his entrance to the musical world. ‘Forget Me’ details Lewis’ experiences of only being able to view his ex’s life through the fragmented lens provided by social media after a tricky breakup, diving back to his roots as an artist whose primary themes are romantic love, and consequently romantic loss. I find it interesting that this track was inspired by The 1975; while both artists are from the UK, to me they’re very distinctive and apart. But they both create incredible tunes.
‘Forget Me’ has been described as an 80s synth. It also comes across from a listening point of view as a change of pace for Lewis, a minimalistic shift towards a more mature perspective, perhaps. ‘Forget Me’ also leans heavily into Lewis’ comedic persona that he so often plays up online. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the music video would be melancholic and haunting, but it’s a surprisingly upbeat visual that replicates the iconic ‘Club Tropicana’ video from Wham! almost frame by frame.
Track two, ‘Wish You The Best,’ has been all over TikTok recently. Speaking of deeply emotional videos, this is the one that you need to bring tissues to. If you don’t know the story of Greyfriars Bobby, best to probably not google it if you’re having a good day.
Debuting at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, lyrically ‘Wish You The Best’ is hopeful, but in the way that acknowledging moving on into a new phase of life is a deeply painful, personal process.
‘Pointless’ comes up third. This one was the second single for the album, released in early December last year. It became Lewis’ fourth number-one single in the UK and was a collaboration with Ed Sheeran, among others. Inspired by the story of a single mother, ‘Pointless’ explores a story that we’ve probably all felt at least once before. With that universal feeling from all the romance movies, when someone becomes your whole world you don’t have to be in the shoes of a mother to relate. One of the most memorable moments in the song comes from the line “I bring her coffee in the morning / she brings me inner peace” is particularly warming if viewed from the lens of a relationship’s simple pleasures.
‘Heavenly Kind of a State of Mind’ follows ‘Pointless.’ It’s filled with lyrics that could come across as both religious or romantic, such as “oh lord I’m not afraid to die if it’s by your side / it would be such a heavenly way to say goodbye.” Lewis cheekily described it as his co-producers being concerned that people would think the song was about how much he loves Jesus, but it works through both lenses. He wanted the track to make it sound like he’d been saved by a partner, and it does give that vibe of being pulled out from the dark with the guidance of your lover. Sometimes all you need is your person to see the light at the end of the tunnel and Capaldi’s symbolic writing conveys that, perfectly and deeply.
Capaldi then elaborates on the fear of loving with ‘Haven’t You Ever Been in Love Before?’ Despite its confusing nature, relationship anxiety is pretty common, and sometimes people pull away in its throes. The chorus “you heard ‘em say, it takes the pain away / and it’s a feeling you can’t ignore” depicts the complex internal struggle of the choice between facing that fear, or letting it consume until it burns you out.
A sharp contradiction swerves listeners into track five, ‘Love the Hell Out Of You.’ Compared to earlier songs on the album, this one is almost more of a wedding song – with an amorous, passionate chorus and warmer undertone than the other tracks. It’s the kind of song that encapsulates supporting your person until the ends of the earth and be damned the consequences. It’s a song that speaks of the realization surrounding love’s importance, and the lengths some are willing to go to hold onto that emotion. As Lewis says, “I’ll bring you heaven if that’s what you need.”
With that then comes ‘Burning’ and the album’s halfway mark. Lyrically, Capaldi goes into how sometimes you need to let someone go, a harsh contrast to the previous track. Jumping over the cliffs occasionally lands relationships on the rocks and the flame just might go out in the end. Lewis is in the flames but pulls himself away from the song’s protagonist to preserve himself.
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This album is intriguing in that it feels like every song is an emotional climax. Lewis’ tackle of these highly strung scenarios over and over makes all of the songs feel vulnerable, yet charged, like they could all be apocalyptically consequential in some way.
‘Any Kind of Life’ is metaphorical to the maximum, from “my lungs don’t breathe” and “my heart don’t beat” to “you were the raging storm that wrecked” in the track’s beginning. This is post-breakup agony sent up to 11.
Something particularly interesting about this album, at least from my point of view, is the overall defeated outlook could be applied to both Lewis’ romantic experiences and, on the back of his recent documentary, his career fears. ‘The Pretender’ is full of double-edged lyricism that could swing either way, emphasised in the lyrics which say “I can wear a million faces / ‘cos I don’t like the one underneath.”
The Netflix documentary How I’m Feeling Now, released earlier this year, discussed Lewis’ mental health struggles and his battle with becoming a superstar in the eyes of the music industry in the short time he did. The speedy piano almost echoes the sound of a panicked heartbeat throughout the track, and the vocals are ragged and full of emotion. From anxiety, his recent diagnosis with Tourettes during Covid, and his imposter syndrome, the documentary is for sure one of the most stirring pieces of television this year.
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‘Leave Me Slowly’ is a walk down memory lane, of falling apart slowly but holding on for one more experience with someone. The pre-chorus explores the beginning of a relationship, albeit in a way that comes across as slightly cheesy with “I’d ask for your number again.” It’s not one of Lewis’ more revolutionary tracks, but it’s relatable.
Second to last, viewers are treated to ‘How This Ends.’ While it’s not the album’s end, it’s the end of this particular road. With the flowers dying and the hearts bleeding, a romantic arc comes to a close. With the “house on fire’” the conclusion here is that the relationship is unescapably broken. Despite the theme here, ‘How This Ends’ is certifiably a banger, and would have been a great finale, as ‘How I’m Feeling Now’s more toned-down approach falls slightly flat after this.
The album itself closes with the song, ‘How I’m Feeling Now’ and like the documentary’s hopeful ending, despite the emotional rollercoaster that this album provides, it feels like Lewis will – probably – be okay.