88.2kHz/24-bit, FLAC*; Capitol Records 5785574 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)

Even those who have recovered from the waves of affected horror attracted by Sam Smith’s title song for the last James Bond movie will find little comfort here. This is an album of relentless introspection and downbeat thinking, all plaintive vocals and mournful accompaniment, with nothing much to raise the spirits. Smith’s voice is undeniably a matter of taste, but is heard here in all its close-miked glory, albeit with more than a touch of sibilance to distract the ear. Or maybe irritate even more. It’s all pretty maudlin stuff, and even the inclusion of the title track on this ‘Special Edition’ download, which is inexplicably missing from the standard release, adds very little, being simply more of the same. This is an ‘if it’s your sort of thing’ album, but there’s a strong temptation to shake the singer by the shoulders and just say ‘Pull yourself together, man’. AE

Sound Quality: 75%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

Seemingly recorded, mixed and mastered at numerous facilities, this ‘88.2kHz’ download clearly spent time at 48kHz (not 44.1kHz). These tracks are asymmetrical upsamples – clean except for trk 3, with evidence of aliasing. PM