Album Review: Honey

Review by: Laurel Wang

Artist: Samia

Rating: 2/5

On first listen, Samia’s sophomore album, Honey, recalls Rupi Kaur, the thousand dying gasps of teen Tumblr blogs, and confessional poetry. But the album’s haunting introspection ultimately reveals little beyond a hollow sound, as if the twenty-six-year-old singer isn’t quite sure of what ghosts she’s running from, either.

In an interview, Samia described observing the romanticization of the small moments in life as the inspiration for the album: “They zoom all the way out on these huge concepts and then all the way back in at these tiny little personal relationships, but they make them carry the same weight.”

But Samia takes us out too far, resulting in an unrecognizable whole with few discernable qualities. The listening experience is like looking for your neighborhood on a map of the cosmos: vast, inducing a certain sense of existential doom, yet ultimately uninterpretable for most of us.

The album’s eleven songs lean heavily on personal anecdotes to do the heavy lifting of songwriting. But where a confessional touch would have drawn listeners in, this storytelling pushes them out, with eight separate name-drops obscuring each hyper-specific narrative of “late-night bonding”. The stories feel pulled from a stranger’s 3am notes-app entry, threading a distant voyeuristic wrongness throughout.

Samia is the strongest when her storytelling is clear, like on the interconnected “Breathing Song” and “Honey”. On “Breathing Song”, Samia wanders through fragmented memories of a sexual assault in an autotuned haze, only breaking into a barely contained, pitchy howl at the very end in the one real moment of reassociation.

The dissociation is resumed immediately in, “Honey”, although the momentary break in Samia’s facade makes the gooey, feel-good track feel sickeningly sweet. “Honey” relieves our concerns until the final lines reveal it as just another face of the same coin: “All you can do in this hotel room is fantasize / All you can do when he needs you is close your eyes”.

But for all its strengths, the inconsistent quality of the album as a whole diminishes its shine. Tracks feel sporadically experimental without apparent meaning. “Sea Lions”, the longest track on the album, features a game of robotic word association that reads off “Fist bump, gesture, friendly helping, Friends/Psycho, drama queen, King, Joker, why so serious?”.
Honey’s dissonant themes and constant tonal whiplash suggest a muddled, ill-defined vision for the album. The album’s standout tracks are clever and catchy, but as a whole, hindered by its inconsistency. Samia seems unable to avoid getting caught in her honey.