8Tracks Review: ‘Expectations’ by Hayley Kiyoko

Expectations by Hayley Kiyoko
Atlantic Records, 2018

Breathe her in

Hayley Kiyoko’s debut album dropped March 30.  I’ve been vaguely aware of her for a long time, knew she was an actress but haven’t seen her work, knew she was a singer but haven’t heard her music.  It’s mostly because my tastes just don’t lean this way, so please keep this in mind here.

She said on Facebook:

Promise me you will listen to it in order, from beginning to end, like it was intended. I set the setting and tone, but this is your personal journey to take what you will.
BUY IT. DOWNLOAD IT. STREAM IT. SHARE IT. I couldn’t be prouder of this album….BLAST THAT BABY 😭😭😭😭😭😭💿💿💿💿💿💿💿

If you’re ’round come get it

  1. Expectations (Overture) (1:52)
  2. Feelings (3:36)
  3. What I Need (featuring Kehlani) (3:39)
  4. Sleepover (3:53)
  5. Mercy / Gatekeeper (5:44)
  6. Under the Blue / Take Me In (5:37)
  7. Curious (3:03)
  8. xx (:51)
  9. Wanna Be Missed (3:15)
  10. He’ll Never Love You (HNLY) (3:51)
  11. Palm Dreams (5:14)
  12. Molecules (4:10)
  13. Let It Be (3:41)

Never felt nothing like that

I gave Expectations a few spins because her Wikipedia article tags her as dream pop and synth pop, and I do enjoy some pretty dream pop.  The album’s opening got me excited: “Expectations (Overture)” does have a nice dream-poppy vibe.  However, it becomes clear very quickly that this is a much dancier album, heavily synth pop with a hundred dance and R&B intentions.  Honestly, it’s the same music I mostly steer clear of, not because it isn’t any good but because it doesn’t engage me.

I wanted to be engaged because Hayley makes it clear that this is a very personal album, and a flight through the lyrics attests to it.  I appreciate that a gay songwriter is singing intimately about the longing these personae feel for the the women they’re missing.  I just can’t connect to the music, and I really tried.

Every style can’t be for every listener, and this style’s not for me.  I share my thoughts here because I suspect that the album is rather well done for its format.  The production is very clean, almost shimmery in its presentation, and Hayley does have a pretty voice.  The lyrics are interesting (I especially like “Sleepover,” about a woman who can’t be with the person she desires, so she’s left with only her imagining of this person).  The beats feel standard at best, which might be okay with me if they just didn’t dominate the entire sound.

If your pop sensibilities lean toward good club vibes and heavy beats, you may find this an outstanding album.  My barbaric ears find it to be very, very long.  I give it a one-point bump for interesting lyrics, but that still puts it around 5/10 for me: not bad but not good.

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About Mitchell K. Dwyer

@scrivener likes movies.
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