"Expectations" - Hayley Kiyoko [Full Album Stream + Zumic Review]

Impressive debut album combines raw emotion with upbeat pop
Delia Joyce

by Delia Joyce

Published March 30, 2018

A few hours before the midnight release of her debut album, Expectations, Kiyoko tweeted to her listeners, "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."  Listening to the thirteen tracks in succession, it becomes clear that they collectively tell a story.

Expectations is the powerful narrative of a young, gay artist and her journey through life's expectations — both her own and those of the outside world. The album unveils Kiyoko as an artist baring her soul and experiences in a way that is raw but also fun. Listeners can feel as if she is confiding her story to them alone, her lyrics evoking seductive word paintings with a dream-like flow. The dance-friendly rhythms and clever lyricism with a touch of comic relief keep things balanced and easy to listen to again-and-again.

From the beginning of the LP, "Expectations (Overture)" sets the tone for the entire work. The song is an ethereal, abstract piece lasting just under two minutes with no lyrics. It builds an emotional foundation for the transition into the playful, upbeat confession that she cares too much, "Feelings," Kiyoko's hit single released October 2017 as a teaser for the debut album. The "Feelings" music video depicts a fun, consensual flirtation between Kiyoko and a beautiful young woman who she follows down a neon-lit street.  The following track, "What I Need," features fellow Atlantic Records artist Kehlani, who brings a contagious, rhythmic hook to Kiyoko's smooth, synth-dominant aesthetic. 

The album continues into a whirlwind of emotions — a seamless experience of the highs and lows of a relationship through some of her strongest tracks, such as "Curious" and "Wanna Be Missed."  Finishing with "Let It Be," the song and album paint a stark contrast between Kiyoko's expectations of the relationship and the unfolding reality with the final acceptance of the end of a relationship.

While many LGBTQ* women will find solace in Kiyoko's journey, the message and music are so universal that anyone who has ever experienced heartache should find that this album has their heart beating and their feet tapping. As the primary songwriter, director, and performer of almost all of her songs and music videos, this album is truly a groundbreaking work.  

This summer, Kiyoko will be touring with Panic! At the Disco. For concert tickets and more, check out Hayley Kiyoko's Zumic artist page.


Hayley Kiyoko Kehlani
Dream Pop Pop Synth Pop
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