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ATP! Album Review: Hayley Kiyoko - This Side of Paradise EP

There’s something to be said about a Disney girl who breaks out of the Disney mold, and des it successfully. Hayley Kiyoko joins this elite club, which includes the likes of Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus with the release of her sophomore EP, This Side of Paradise.

Long gone are the days of bubblegum pop as Paradise dives right into “Given It All,” which features an extremely catchy and repetitive chorus composed of only six words: “I’ve given it all to you.” Kiyoko’s voice is determined, almost defiant, as she negotiates with a distant lover, supported by a simple background synth.

“Cliff’s Edge” captures the same sensation of a midnight dance party on the beach – carefree, relaxed and absolutely exhilarating. Kiyoko tackles falsetto as she breathes, “Caving in, crumbling on your hips, your lips, they’re mine,” accompanied by a syncopated beat decorated with electronic bass slides. Kiyoko coos, “I want to feel that sea breeze,” a couple times in the chorus, making everyone by the end of the song want to drive down to the coast and feel the same sea breeze she so desperately longs for.

The title single, “This Side of Paradise,” sounds like Kiyoko has all of Echosmith rallied behind her, to the point where we can actually picture Sydney Sierota jamming out right beside Kiyoko on tambourine. Like the rest of the EP, it relies on pulsing synth lines and a hand clapping-esque rhythm under Kiyoko’s description of a volatile love: “I’ve got better luck in my head, we’re just ghosts inside my bed.”

The EP continues with “Girls Like Girls,” which has a chorus a bit musically and instrumentally similar to All Time Low’s “Stella.” But instead of singing about a good drink and an even better party, Kiyoko takes the song to “tell the neighbors I’m not sorry if I’m breaking walls down” and say that girls and boys both liking girls do is “nothing new.” It’s a revolutionarily basic message embedded above something a little like “Stella” mixed with Ingrid Michaelson’s “Girls Chase Boys,” combined with Kiyoko’s brazen words and a diluted electro-indie-pop vibe.

Kiyoko closes out with “Feeding the Fire,” the song most likely to be blaring when you’re running around pulling out some dance moves for an impromptu party when you’re home alone. It sums up the essence of the entire EP with its memorable, unique lyrics, killer electronic beat with short instrumental breaks and resounding, resolving bridge. “Get your heavy weight off my back, I’m on the right track, and you’re feeding the fire,” Kiyoko advises, coming full circle by ending Paradise in the same unwavering tone she started the EP with.

Paradise is for fans of Echosmith, Ryn Weaver and maybe even Halsey; Kiyoko has the makings to be as great as any of them in future songs to come. Her lyrics are what make her stand out, and although they can get a bit repetitive at times, Kiyoko’s music is perfect to listen to if you want to just let go of your stresses and dance at a wild soiree or in your room by yourself. Kiyoko certainly introduced us to her side of paradise in this exceptional EP.


Sumin Woo

This Side of Paradise EP is available now.

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