In the five years between Syd’s solo debut, Fin, and its follow-up, the singer-songwriter experienced her first major heartbreak. It upended her world right as our social lives were already contracting under the weight of the pandemic, giving her plenty of time to mourn and then heal. Most of the songs on Broken Hearts Club, despite its name, were written before that, when she was still swaddled in the bliss of deep, reciprocal love. What results is a conceptual evolution of romance and its subsequent unraveling, traced over the course of the album.
“CYBAH” (as in “could you break a heart”—one of the few songs written after the fact) captures the ambivalence of catching feelings, as fear begins to give way to surrender. Warm fuzzy feelings abound. They're in the ecstasy of “Fast Car,” an ode to not-so-secret rendezvous and stolen kisses, and the sentimental delight of “Sweet” and “Control,” both emblems of infatuation transforming into safety and comfort. Around “Out Loud”—a gorgeous plea to be desired and adored without shame which becomes especially cogent through the voices of Syd and Kehlani, both of whom are gay—cracks begin to emerge, before the all-out shattering of “Goodbye My Love.”
Love is a risk and deserves music that reflects as much, and likewise, within the space of Broken Hearts Club, Syd shows up more vulnerable than ever. The lilt of her voice shifts forward, front and center to sing the kind of lyrics that could only come from real-life inspiration. There's no hiding here. It may be her most personal album to date, but it resonates far beyond.