Samia - Honey Music Album Reviews

Samia - Honey Music Album Reviews
After an arresting opener, the singer-songwriter’s second album wanders into a fog of existential angst and you-had-to-be-there anecdotes.

Growing up means realizing that sometimes you’re just a filler episode in someone else’s love story. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it: “I hope you marry the girl from your hometown/And I’ll fucking kill her, and I’ll fucking freak out,” Samia yowls on the lead single and opening song of her new album, Honey. With the insight of an omnipresent narrator and the charm of a comically disaffected protagonist, the Los Angeles-born, New York-raised singer-songwriter exorcizes her demons on her darkest and most cinematic song to date. A24 even let Lucas Hedges out of their basement to star in the music video. 

Not really a murderous revenge fantasy, “Kill Her Freak Out” is the cry of a wounded animal, cornered and clawing at potential predators. The uncomfortably long 24-second organ solo at the intro signals impending doom, and if you didn’t already have a pit in your stomach, Samia emerges in a sort of dissociative daze to announce someone’s pregnancy. Whose? Oh, just the love of her life. Nothing puts a nail in the coffin of youth quite like stalking the crush or partner that defined your earlier years and finding a wedding registry. But the tragedy of “Kill Her Freak Out” is less the hypothetical manslaughter than Samia’s inability to maintain its momentum for the duration of 11 songs.

With references to 2010s pop hits and Williamsburg concert venues, Honey is Marnie from Girls’ indie-rock album. Two songs in, you’ll wonder if you slept-walked into L Train Vintage. Straddling the unhinged-cool dichotomy, Samia uses the potent pathos of confessionalism (“I’ve never felt so unworthy of loving”) to distract from shaky metaphors and imagery: “Kissing you would be kissing on the USA.” It’s reminiscent of those TikTok slideshows with quotes about girlhood, mother-daughter relationships, and unrequited love set to “Scott Street.”

You might’ve discovered Samia through the suggested-artists algorithm on a streaming app. Embracing comparisons to melancholic “sad girls,” she puts on her Phoebe Bridgers Doc Martens (the deep Californian drawl in every “time” on “Charm You”) and Adrianne Lenker cowboy hat (the lyrics on “Pink Balloon” that recall “anything”), but her gestures toward intimacy land without emotional weight. The guttural scream at the end of “Breathing Song” is one of the rare moments when Samia’s delivery matches the vague devastation of her lyrics. Opening lines like “Your mom keeps threatening suicide on holidays” and “Screaming ‘Porn kills love’/Outside your window with the Adventists” might as well be items on a grocery list. 

Samia told The Forty-Five she was inspired by Waking Life and Everything Everywhere All at Once, films that “zoom all the way out on these huge concepts and then all the way back in at these tiny little personal relationships.” In real life, worrying whether your friend’s parents like you can be just as anxiety-inducing as looming climate disaster. But the record’s rapid tone shifts are whiplash-inducing and Samia’s quick-fire anecdotes are just way too specific to ascend from name-drops into narratives. It’s a never-ending case of “you had to be there”: Who are Chris and David, and what do they have to do with anything? They’re individual portraits in search of their photomosaic.

Referencing worship music, “Jesus, take the wheel,” and the big guy himself, Samia half-commits to a God-fearing country album. Nashville has been her adopted home for the past couple years and everyone knows that when you get to Tennessee, they strap you down and program a twang into your vocal cords. OK, the accent is a bit exaggerated at times, but it complements the record’s religious and patriotic themes. Residing in the hyphenated space between her Lebanese and American heritage, Samia explores this tension via love interests who fill her with self-doubt and trigger an identity crisis (“I’d be so afraid of what your daddy’d say/I could fetishize you for the whole damn day”). This element is easy to miss on a casual listen, but it does add a satirical tinge to songs like “Charm You,” where she sings about the thrill of visiting that white suburban institution, the outdoor mall.

When Honey shines, it’s in the same way as Samia’s debut, 2020’s The Baby: by highlighting her rich and versatile voice. “Mad at Me” makes a case for her pop pivot. Like Ariana Grande and Lorde, she’s able to manipulate an upbeat synth-pop palette to unsettling effect. On this pleading-eye emoji of a track, she sounds like a child performing a choreographed song and dance to get the attention of a parent who is giving her the silent treatment. That’s when her anguish is most potent. The way she modulates her voice on the chorus of “Amelia”—an electronic tribute to Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso, in whose studio Honey was recorded—almost makes up for the Little Mermaid soundtrack quality of the instrumental.

When the late Toni Morrison taught a creative writing course at Princeton, she required her students to write from perspectives wholly foreign to their own, reasoning that their ability to “relate to themselves as strangers” would result in dynamic stories. Samia pitches Honey as a graduation from the egocentric stage of artistry by tackling themes of nihilism and generational legacy: “Are you scared to die?/The trick is don’t arrive/You can see it in your daughter’s eyes/That’s the purpose and the prize.” Society might make you feel old for being in your late 20s, especially as a woman, but at 26, Samia is not yet ready to write her “deathbed record.” She’s better at romanticizing the mundane, like when she compares a cobweb to a constellation and professes her desire to “be a mermaid.” The album’s more pleasing songs, like “Charm You” and “Honey,” are campfire ditties with rich, inviting harmonies. These brief moments of levity suggest that, in the face of existential dread, maybe it is more rewarding to sing with the people you love than about them.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Samia - Honey Music Album Reviews Samia - Honey Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on February 06, 2023 Rating: 5


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