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Album review: Hayley Kiyoko - Expectations


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Poppy, bright and unashamedly queer, this cheery album brings together some already popular songs with new hidden gems, to create a truly infectious blend.

It was the album we'd all been eagerly awaiting ever since Hayley Kiyoko announced it back in 2017. When she gave us the album title and cover on January 1st, Kiyoko wasn't just ushering in the new year with her music but creating an entire movement, of which she is the undisputed queen: #20gayteen. That's right - 2018 is going to be unashamedly queer, and that's something we all can (and should) celebrate.

Everyone's favourite 'Lesbian Jesus' has long since been wowing us with catchy stand-out tunes like 'Girls Like Girls', which became 2015's anthem for queer women worldwide, so all eyes were on her for her debut album, Expectations. Last week, we were definitely not disappointed.

In the span of 13 songs and 48 minutes, Kiyoko takes on an entire range of feelings, from unrequited love to closeted lovers, break-ups and everything in between, all the while giving listeners catchy and instantly memorable tunes to dance and sing along to. While it was preceded by the singles 'Curious', 'Sleepover' and 'Feelings', Expectations still manages to deliver by its own merits - 'Mercy/Gatekeeper'and 'He'll Never Love You (HNLY)' are particular highlights, along with 'Molecules' and 'Under the Blue/Take Me In.'

Expectations represents Kiyoko at her confident, cheery best, and the album shares its strengths with her as she manages to channel deeply personal yet relatable emotions while still being the entertainer we all know and love. Her songs paint imagery of summer days round the corner, taking listeners on a sun-kissed ride.

Hayley Kiyoko's debut album is impressive in how polished it sounds, especially given its confessional tone. Holding nothing back from us, from the loneliness of 'Sleepover' and frustration yet playful back-and-forth of 'What I Need (ft. Kehlani),'  to the healing of 'Mercy/Gatekeeper' and confident feelings in (unsurprisingly) 'Feelings,' Kiyoko takes us on an emotional rollercoaster that brings us to both highs and lows from her experience but never lets us go until 'Let It Be.' In ending her album on a triumphant yet reflective note, Kiyoko allows us to freely take part in her journey, always accompanied by a cool, breezy attitude and pleasingly infectious beats.

Kiyoko has established herself as a highly valued figure in the lives of her dedicated fans, as someone whose made it her mission to normalise same-sex relationships and attraction not just in her lyrics but most noticeably in her album's cover, featuring her gazing, unabashed, at a naked woman. She's already gained a devoted following among queer teens and young adults on platforms like Tumblr, where she acts like a supportive big sister-mentor hybrid. 'I'm just curious, is it serious?' she croons on 'Curious', but Kiyoko's undeniably serious as she preaches self-love and conquers both our hearts and minds. She's already the queen of #20gayteen: all she needs now is a catchy name for her ever-growing fanbase and she'll be all set for world domination.

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