By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief
Debut album is LGBTQ triumph
Expectations doesn’t feel like a first album as Hayley Kiyoko strides onto the pop scene with her debut record full of emotional lyrics, upbeat dance rhythms and catchy LGBTQ anthems that surpass all anticipations.
The former Disney channel star had a lot to live up to with this album given her devoted following of fans that crowned her “lesbian Jesus” after a stream of singles and popular music videos like “Girls Like Girls,” featured Kiyoko singing about loving women.
In line with her already established image, Expectations further establishes her in the pop scene as she sings about seducing women and falling in love with all the confidence male pop artists do.
The music industry isn’t full of openly lesbian or bisexual female musicians, so Kiyoko is providing that representation many have longed for. Through her music, LGBTQ fans finally get to hear their own experiences of same-sex love and heartbreak, which adds to the allure of the album.
Opening with the lyric-less overture “Expectations,” is a unique move, but it works as the perfect introduction for the rest of the album. It’s confident, mysterious, and it draws the listener in, leaving them wanting more.
The overture carries into “Feelings,” a song about overthinking relationships, that works musically regardless of its painfully relatable lyrics that give an honest look at inner conflict and what it’s like when one feels too much.
Later on the album, Kiyoko teams up with fellow lesbian musician Kehlani for “What I Need,” which is well-crafted by the pair who are a perfect match on the track.
Kiyoko is mostly upbeat throughout the album, but the way she chronicles her battle with depression on “Mercy/Gatekeeper” is wrenching despite the song’s uplifting musical backdrop. It perfectly sums up what it’s like to be emotionally drained from difficult situations.
The album’s momentum slows as it makes way for Kiyoko’s popular pre-album single “Curious,” which sees her twist the song’s title to confront a bi-curious girl. It’s the perfect representation of what it’s like to be toyed with by a “straight” girl.
She nails the cool mix of swagger and sass of “Curious” again in “He’ll Never Love You (HNLY),” as she reminds listeners that she can treat a girl better than any man, or woman for that matter. Her confidence feels playful but warranted.
Expectations closes with the pop anthem “Let It Be,” that serves as a moment to exhale from the rest of the album’s deep dive into the emotional complexities of love and longing. The slower, more emotional song ends the record wistfully with a sense of calm acceptance about the way things will be despite not being what was originally wanted.
The transitions between songs should also be praised as one song bleeds into the next. The whole album feels like one seamless musical journey.
All in all, Expectations is a solid, official introduction for Kiyoko that’s sure to satisfy thanks to her refreshing authenticity, original style and noteworthy talent.