Jan 26, 2023
By Caleb Campbell
Samia has already impressed as one of the pandemic’s rising freshman indie pop class, debuting in 2020 with the sunny and melancholic tones of The Baby. Her debut and her follow-up EP, Scout, both cultivated a style that thrived on confession, sweeping melodies, and the gentle glimmer of Samia’s voice, a warm and winning combination that proved easy to love. However, where The Baby presented a newfound promising indie pop ingenue, Samia’s sophomore record, Honey, feels like a thoroughly confident step forward into a more ambitious identity.
Samia opens the album with possibly its most sparse and unflinchingly honest moment, “Kill Her Freak Out,” a chilly and subtly textured effort that sets the tone for a record that often turns towards glacial synths and uncomfortable confessions. More so than before, Samia seems assured enough to let these quiet moments simmer, allowing them to gradually shift into addictive dance beats as on “Sea Lions,” or grow into a piercing wail, as on “Breathing Song.” Samia finds searing intensity within these tracks’ negative space, molding her stark lo-fi expanses and self-inflicted barbs into deadly weapons.
Knitting it all together is Samia’s talent for unabashed and alluringly honest lyricism, a preternatural ability to find raw beauty in even the most unflattering admission or unadorned imagery. For as personal as Honey surely is, Samia also laces her lyrics with a broad universal lens, zooming into tiny details before shifting effortlessly to a moment of piercing honesty. She imagines an ex-lover lounging as they listen to music, before confessing “I’ve never felt this unworthy of loving/I hope you marry that girl from your hometown/And I’ll fucking kill her/And I’ll fucking freak out.” It’s ugly and raw, but there is an undeniable voyeuristic allure to hearing Samia’s darkest intrusive thoughts.
Much of these desolate and devastating tracks occupy the album’s first half, while the second half gradually settles into a more settled perspective. The record’s progression mirrors the slow growth and steady healing of time’s passage, with tracks like “Amelia,” “To Me It Was,” and the title track offering bursts of gentle golden-hued warmth, paired with a more wistful lyrical lens. Here, the cuts that seemed so fresh on “Kill Her Freak Out” or “Pink Balloon” have faded into memory, scarring over and leaving a dull ache in their place. After the purging power of the record’s visceral low points, shimmering electro pop cuts like “Mad At Me” or warm-hearted acoustic sing-alongs like “Honey” offer a welcome respite, shading the record with a dose of yearning nostalgia and even sparks of joy.
Following The Baby, Samia seemed like she could blend easily into the growing landscape of “sad girl” indie singer/songwriters. In contrast, Honey feels uniquely her own, not only for its diaristic vignettes but also for Samia’s stronger songwriting voice and expansive sonic blend. Taken together, the record paints an affecting picture of a promising young talent, one capable of effortlessly blending genuinely creative textures and lyrical gems with the striking allure of pop music. (www.samiaband.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
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