by Madeleine Chan, Staff Writer
I’m not religious, but if I was, Hayley Kiyoko would be my god.
Following her debut 2018 (#20gayteen) album, Expectations, I’m Too Sensitive For This Shit (ITSFTS) marks Hayley Kiyoko’s fourth EP. Affectionaltely named “Lesbian Jesus” by her fans, Kiyoko takes the queer experience and normalizes it through pop bops and danceable tunes. In particular, this five-track EP takes a deep-dive into her struggles with relationships, herself, and confidence.
ITSFTS starts with “demons,” which explores Kiyoko’s inner struggles through an infectiously intense beat and a spooky Halloween-esque atmosphere. Her experience with depression is especially highlighted in this song’s fearful and uneasy lyrics. This honest track makes a great opener and gets the listener deep into Kiyoko’s mind and music.
“L.O.V.E. Me”, the second song, emanates early-2000s vibes that proclaim a very strong and confident “love me or leave me” message. Out and proud, Kiyoko demonstrates confidence with her sexuality and self with this vibrant, boppy jam. The next song “runaway” is about giving a toxic person one last chance to say “something that won’t make [her] runaway.” Acting as a foil to “L.O.V.E. Me,” “runaway” shows the more anxious and troubled side of relationship struggles.
Nearly a thematic continuation of the previous song, “I Wish” illustrates problems with a current incompatible lover and the longing desire for a new, better one. The stellar cinematic music video goes to the extreme by visualizing this message with Kiyoko and her friends having a seance to banish her lover from her memory.
The EP wraps up with “she,” a celebratory look at Kiyoko’s past and future. The early 2000s vibe continues in both the song and the music video where Kiyoko’s young, closeted, dreamer self looks forward to her better, freer future. Her poster of NSYNC’s Lance Bass, who is also gay, even comes to life to lip-sync part of the song. The tune itself emanates freedom and joy, reflecting Kiyoko’s liberation with a funky, street-style rhythm, flowy synths, and anthemic chorus.
My only criticism of the EP is just that — it’s an EP. It’s very short and has a run time of about 14 minutes, leaving me wanting more of these dreamy, danceable bops. I want a whole album to sink my teeth into, and to feel extended melancholic melodies and hopeful harmonies. I feel like it had the potential to be something greater than an EP, which will probably get less exposure than an LP. Considering that Kiyoko is also working on her next full-length album, and that these songs were originally going to be a part of it, I feel like a delayed release would have been a better exposé of her work.
To be fair, Kiyoko did say in a Rolling Stone interview that she’s now simply releasing what she writes instead of “disappearing and coming back.” I can’t knock her creative process – I guess I’m just a greedy fan who would rather drown in an hour of her smooth, satiating voice than wade in 14 minutes of short bops.
Despite its ephemerality, ITSFTS reconciles past, present, and future through plenty of 2000s callbacks and fun melodies for a slice of bite-sized bliss.