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Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent proves Lewis Capaldi had nothing to worry about

"Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent"

Release date: 19 May 2023
Lewis Capaldi - Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent - Album Artwork
18 May 2023, 14:46 Written by Caitlin Chatterton

Four years on, Lewis Capaldi is still wallowing in his feelings – but this time around he's pausing to dance.

Caricatured as the heartbroken court jester, Lewis Capaldi has mastered a very Adele-coded juxtaposition: pairing self-deprecating, bone dry humour with a catalogue of startlingly earnest, determinedly woeful love ballads. The formula proved a hit in 2019, when Capaldi became a household name and his debut album, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, remained glued to the UK Top Ten for sixty eight weeks. The bigger the hype, though, the higher the pressure on a second instalment. Capaldi evidently felt the weight of that: in January 2021 he warned Twitter that his sophomore record would 'be universally panned by critics', would 'fail to be as commercially successful' as his debut, and would end his so-called 15 minutes of fame. It might have been yet another tongue-in-cheek quip, but it likely buried a very real bundle of nerves.

Happily, Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent proves Capaldi’s biggest troll (himself) wrong. The record opens with a run of singles: from the vitriol of comeback banger “Forget Me,” Capaldi quickly matures for “Wish You The Best”’s heart wrenching goodbye; they’re followed up by “Pointless” – the song that went viral on TikTok for inspiring sincere relationship montages and bitter piss-taking in equal measure. While all three are solid offerings, the album’s best tracks come later. “Heavenly Kind Of State Of Mind” encourages listeners to put down the tissues and stand up for a boogie and, in lauding a partner who’s “the only one who doesn’t hate me,” is about as lyrically upbeat as Capaldi gets as well. Elsewhere, “Love The Hell Out Of You” and “Any Kind Of Life” conjure images of a thousand phone lights held to the sky, as the tender piano ballads relish, and then anguish, over the ‘during’ and ‘after’ of falling in love.

By now we’re plenty familiar with Capaldi’s feelings on heartache, which is why “The Pretender,” a song that isn't about his love life, is one of the strongest on the record. Over a disarmingly cheerful piano melody, Capaldi struggles with the stubbornness of his imposter syndrome; even amongst his confessions of besotted love and broken hearts, this is by far the most vulnerable admission. It’s matched in angst only by “How This Ends,” a dramatic track that would have inspired a generation of Tumblr poets back in the day (“now the flowers are dead like the hearts in our chests”). That doesn’t detract from its banger status though. It should, arguably, have been saved for the very last; in its wake, the mellow “How I’m Feeling Now” can’t help but fall a bit flat.

Still, Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent is a triumphant return from Capaldi. There’s plenty that’s consistent with his debut – “Haven’t You Ever Been In Love Before” could alternatively be named “Someone You Loved: Reimagined”. However, there’s a confidence, even if feigned, that sets this version of Capaldi apart from 2019’s; the heavier pop presence also injects his tunes with renewed energy. Despite all his jokes, Capaldi is set to be the furthest thing from a one-hit-wonder.

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