Liner Notes: Feeling broken by Lewis Capaldi’s ‘Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent’


Illustration by Beatrice Villaflor

British singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi released his sophomore album on Friday, giving fans 12 new tracks.

Beatrice Villaflor, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi released his highly anticipated sophomore album “Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent” on Friday. He indulges fans with 12 new tracks, four of which were prereleased.

After listening, I, too, am broken by desire. I had high expectations before listening to Capaldi’s album and was left dissatisfied with the latter half of his newest LP. 

At midnight Friday, I pressed play, not knowing what to expect from Capaldi. I wondered whether the “Someone You Loved” hitmaker could recreate the success of his first album with his newest project. 

And for the first part of “Broken By Desire,” I was convinced he would triumph. When I first listened to “Forget Me,” the album’s opener and first single, I was reminded of what originally drew me to Capaldi’s discography. His gritty voice, paired with his raw songwriting, perfectly conveyed post-breakup pettiness. 

On the other hand, “Wish You The Best” feels like the flip side of the bitterness described in “Forget Me.” Capaldi slows the tempo, and his voice takes on a somber tone as he relinquishes control over a failed relationship, despairing over how he missed “the green in (his former lover’s) eyes.” As someone who has an ex with green eyes, I did take this ballad personally, and loved all three and a half minutes of it. 

“Pointless,” on first listen, had me crying for the unconditional romance Capaldi describes. But Capaldi subverts the preconceptions of a love song with the track’s music video. Its depiction of a single mother and her son throughout the years as the backdrop of the singer declaring “everything is pointless without you” had me sobbing even harder. 

One of my favorite songs of all time is The Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” So it was a delight to see a reference to the track in “Heavenly Kind Of State Of Mind,” with Capaldi remarking, “I ain’t afraid to die if it means I’m by your side / It would be such a heavenly way to say goodbye.” The upbeat track emphasizes the wit and strength of Capaldi’s writing with lines like, “It’s almost cruel, the blue in your eyes / The kind of blasphemy that makes a congregation cry.” 

But the musical formula that sets these tracks apart becomes predictable by the album’s latter half. In the most egregious example, “Burning” and “Any Kind Of Life” are sonically very similar. Both instrumentals swell by the chorus and are marked with Capaldi’s charming croon, making them identical tracks simply written in different fonts. The musical blueprint that makes these songs boring to the ear is worsened with overused cliches like the “sinking ships” sung about in “Burning.” While the tracks weren’t bad, they weren’t novel enough for me to enjoy. 

“The Pretender” and “How I’m Feeling Now” are the saving graces to the lackluster second half. They illustrate Capaldi at his best as he tackles intensely personal insecurities in the face of success — keep these songs away from those with impostor syndrome. The latter has Capaldi admitting, “So here’s to my beautiful life / That seems to leave me so unsatisfied.” The lyric poignantly captures the feeling of when you’re supposed to feel gratitude for your life but somehow cannot muster up any. 

Through “Broken By Desire,” Capaldi displays the grounded honesty that made him a viral sensation and keeps listeners eager to hear more. But the album as a whole falls squarely in the realm of what we’ve come to expect from the Scotsman.

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