Music Review: Always Never Home


Stephanie Kang, Editor

  I initially chose to review Syd’s newly released EP after getting obsessed with her collaboration with South Korean RnB singer DEAN on “love” a few months back, expecting to see even more of the light-hearted and jazzy influences that permeated this song.

  Spoiler alert: “Always Never Home” is nothing like “love.”

  In fact, if I hadn’t seen her name on the EP myself, I wouldn’t have believed that she had worked on the very same songs.

  One of the first things I noticed was her voice. More specifically, how her voice simultaneously blended into the production and contrasted against it. While production was dark and deep, Syd’s voice is sensual yet relaxed, preventing listeners from sinking in too deeply into the darker tones of her music.

  When listening to the album, I don’t really hear the lyrics, and it seems like this is intentional — sometimes, the production is louder than her own voice. Sometimes, that on its own is what rings through it all. I took a look at the lyrics of her songs and realized that for each one, she had restricted herself to only putting a variation on a few verses at a time, or when she had written more than a few different versions of a verse, the entire theme of the song was less serious and more light-hearted than the others songs in her EP.

 Partly this is due to the fact that this album isn’t large scale in the same way it was in the past for Syd. This EP was actually anticipated to be her second studio album, yet when it came right down to it she released these three songs.

  For her debut studio album, The Fader wrote a comprehensive essay on the exploration of pleasure and the influences of 90’s/00’s RnB on her album. For her EP, The Fader wrote a few paragraph blip about the mere fact of its release and dropped a link to it on Spotify.

  In fact, when I tried to look for any interviews Syd did about her EP, I can’t find anything she did to help promote it other than what remains on her social media and her tour.

  So what was the purpose of this EP? Lyrically, Syd doesn’t cover any new ground. She brags about being financially well-off, she talks about doing anything for a lover, and she discusses keeping lovers at arms’ length to prevent catching feelings. Haven’t you heard this in every other RnB song out there?

 Yet, maybe that’s the point. Production aside, she’s been written about in the past for such mundane themes seen through the lens of a queer woman of color in an arena where two times out of three one never sees that sort of representation. By letting the production rise up and consume her lyrics, perhaps Syd is making a statement about her life and her music. Which is more important?