Two years ago, Hayley Kiyoko delivered some of her best work in her debut album, Expectations. With songs like “Curious” and “Sleepover,” it was impossible to go through the album without finding a new song to love. She even managed to end up in the Voice’s favorite playlist maker, The Weekly List, multiple times. Her work could only be described as brimming with potential, leaving listeners longing for more.
Kiyoko finally returns with her latest EP, I’m Too Sensitive For This Shit (2020). Featuring five songs, the EP delivers tracks about personal struggles, messy relationships, and self-acceptance. While it does not quite live up to the hype of Expectations, I’m Too Sensitive For This Shit reaffirms that Kiyoko is one of the best rising artists in recent years.
I’m Too Sensitive For This Shit admittedly has a rough start with its opening track, “demons.” While the song’s lyrics discuss Kiyoko’s mental health and personal demons (the chorus, fittingly, repeats, “Please forgive me, I’ve got demons in my head”), the loud, pop background makes the track sound like it should be danced to instead of reflected upon. The two sentiments, unfortunately, clash for most of the song. Eventually, Kiyoko’s singing is obliterated by the noise around her. The bridge’s lyrics, “I feel like I can’t breathe / I feel like I can’t sleep / How did I not see? / I’m unwell,” become indistinguishable as her voice is distorted, a disappointing factor considering Kiyoko’s notably remarkable songwriting.
The EP picks up with the following track, “L.O.V.E. Me.” With upbeat instrumentals and cheery backing vocals, the song can only be described as something that should be in an early 2000’s rom-com montage—in the best way possible. While still hinting at her inner demons, the lyrics fit better into this mix, as Kiyoko begs an unknown lover for authenticity and commitment (“So girl, don’t tell me you love me if you don’t really want me”).
The theme of complicated relationships bleeds into the third song, “runaway.” Unlike its predecessor, “runaway” sounds like it was stripped straight out of an indie flick. In the song, Kiyoko finds herself spiraling into a tumultuous relationship. In some points, it seems as if she knows it would be better if she left (“You’re like a chemical / Too good, but toxic”). In others, however, it’s as if she is desperate for her lover to give her a reason to stay (“If you’re not afraid, let me hear you say / Something that won’t make, make me run away”). The lyrics portray a complicated game of flight-or-fight, but the song itself has just the right beat to make anyone addicted to it.
Kiyoko breaks free from her unknown lover in “I Wish,” where she expresses her frustration at receiving these mixed signals. “I Wish” has arguably the best and most interesting blend between lyrics and instrumentals in the entire EP. While Kiyoko is laying down all of her feelings without holding back (“I don’t know where we’re gonna go from here, I don’t / You shut down when I tell you all the shit I want”), she backs it up with light-hearted instrumentals. Surprisingly, the two do not conflict with each other. They result in a melancholic, catchy tune that hopes for better luck in her next romantic venture (“I wish, I wish, I wish I found love”).
The EP wraps up with “she,” a closing track dedicated to Kiyoko confronting her fears and chasing her dreams. While seemingly generic in its message, “she” has some of the most iconic lyrics of the album. “She acts like she’s in seventh grade / But actually she’s 20-gay,” for example, are bound to freak out fans, who have dubbed Kiyoko “Lesbian Jesus.” It may not be the most memorable song of Kiyoko’s career, but the song is nonetheless fun—perfect to sing or shout along to, and it’s where Kiyoko is at her most confident.
I’m Too Sensitive For This Shit, despite not experimenting with much of Kiyoko’s potential, doesn’t disappoint. It still delivers her signature style of catchy beats and memorable lyrics, and it’s hard to go through without getting one or two songs stuck in your head. It’s a short and sweet EP, leaving fans anxiously waiting for the announcement of her next project to see what she will come up with next.
Voice’s Choices: “L.O.V.E. Me,” “I Wish”