Hayley Kiyoko has been extremely emotional leading up to the release of Expectations. During her album release pre-party at Samsung 837, the 26-year-old broke out into tears on stage several times while talking about the journey leading up to her debut album's release, a pivotal moment in her career as a solo artist. In her own words, she's worked hard to overcome so many obstacles, from making personal compromises to sell an image to battling for her life when she was unexpectedly hit with a traumatic brain injury. In the end, Hayley finally reached a place where she can be her truest self and make music purely from the heart. What she never expected was that she would create a community of fans that continue to support her through it all without judgement and refer to her as "Lesbian Jesus."
In a press release, Hayley explained how the energy off this album directly connects to a new state of maturity that she recently found within herself, a testament to the growth she has experienced throughout the past three years. "There’s a sense of grounded confidence within the lyrics, the melodies, and the production," she said. "It’s very unwavering. This is what it is. Take it or leave it."
As a pop record, Expectations isn't necessarily new wave in terms of sound, but that doesn't discredit Hayley's genuine originality. For her, the difference will always be the messages that she's sending through her music which are not so subtly aimed at specific women that have impacted her life. "He'll Never Love You (HNLY)" is one of her favorite songs, a self-described "petty" diss track where Hayley goes off on a girl that couldn't come to terms with her sexuality despite the power of their connection. (From now on, please hit all of your exes with the line "so thirsty you’re drowning in it.") It's safe to assume that she's calling out the same person on her self-respect anthem "Curious" as well.
Hayley is open, honest and unapologetic about the depth of her feelings when consumed by a lover, and how she struggles to control them. This concept also comes to mind while listening to the multi-layered soundscape that is "Under The Blue/Take Me In." One of the most exciting tracks on the album is "What I Need," a playful, sun-kissed duet with Kehlani who has never shied away from the fact that she identifies as bisexual. (True story: They became friends through Instagram after Kehlani commented on one of Hayley's photos.) These are the types of collaborations that the LGBT community deserves and will hopefully see more of in the future as queer artists gain mainstream recognition.
The album isn't just about girl problems—Hayley also touches on darker subjects like depression and death. "Molecules" is a deceptively deep pop track specifically written to honor a friend's late brother. Altogether, there's a full range of life experiences covered within these 13 tracks, marking the first chapter of an ongoing story that Hayley finally feels comfortable in sharing with the world.