Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations (Album Review)

Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations (Album Review)

The name Hayley Kiyoko may sound new to the uninitiated, but in fairness with the multi-faceted artist, she has been indulging in the music world since her childhood, albeit not within the commercial radar. When she was six, in 1997, she took drum lessons. When she was eight, she wrote her first song, titled “Notice.”

Fast forward, in 2007, Kiyoko was a member of the female Pop vocal group The Stunners. Soon afterwards, she embarked on a solo singing career – aside from other preoccupations like acting and leading various clubs and organizations at her school. In 2013, she released her first album, the EP A Belle to Remember. Two EPs more followed, 2015’s This Side of Paradise and 2016’s Citrine.

Finally, Kiyoko, who was born on April 3, 1991, in Los Angeles, California, United States, is ready to unleash her first full-length, which is long overdue, considering the gradual but expansive trajectory of her career.

Scheduled for release on March 30, 2018, on Atlantic Records, Kiyoko’s debut long-playing, titled Expectations, is an improvement of her previous works – more polished and fuller-sounding. The drama starts with the short, breezy “Overture” and then undulates into the Dance Pop mid-tempo “Feelings.” The bass-driven rhythm then bounces into the ensuing “What I Need.” The mood turns rustic and romantic with the soulful sway and pondering pulses of “Sleepover,” which exudes faint echoes of “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton.

“Mercy/Gatekeeper” and “Under the Blue/Take Me In” lure the listener to an extended trip to the laser-lit dance-floor, conjuring images of gyrating bodies, sweaty foreheads, and moving mouths and lips. Still in the same discothèque, the rhythm of the bass then becomes punchier and the beat more delightfully choppy as “Curious” plays next. Preluded by the short bit “xx,” the keyboard-led, ambient “Wanna Be Missed” and the R&B-dressed, horn-adorned “He’ll Never Love You” then continue the dancey, sexy vibes. The Disco beat of “Palm Dreams” then treats the listener to a nostalgic ride to the glorious ’80s – what some might describe as “Old-School R&B/Soul/Dance/Pop.

The penultimate track, “Molecules” is a back-to-the-future moment, with its thin glaze of Alternative Pop reminiscent of The Chainsmokers (“Closer”), Adele (“Chasing Pavements”), Chvrches (“Leave a Trace”), Demi Lovato (“Skyscraper”), and even latter Coldplay (“Birds”), especially when these artists are in the mood to dance mildly with their eyes closed, heads slowly bobbing, and hands waving in the air. Finally, Kiyoko finishes off her first offering with the celebratory, anthemic, and slow-motion balladry of “Let It Be.”

Many critics dismiss newcomers usually because they judge them based on only their meager information about them, assuming that these hardworking artists were mere flashes-in-the-pan. They do not even take the time to dig first into the career backgrounds and creative trajectories of such indomitable spirits.

Kiyoko is one of these artists who deserve support and accolades. After all, she has been busting her grooves and expressing her arts since she was a child. Her upcoming album is just a continuation of the passion that she has been engaging in since two decades ago – and most likely the start of something more substantial and grand for her. CrypticRock gives Expectations 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Expectations:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.


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