Review Summary: Honey eschews tangy pep and pop aggression for stripped down arrangements, glossy front-mixed vocals and patience-testing ballads.
Simply put, Honey
lacks the charisma which made The Baby
one of the sleeper hits of 2020. While a more generous listener might find an appeal to be made in the lighter approach to pop tune arrangement Honey
is going for, the most immediate taste it leaves is a lack of inspiration. These shades of apathy are felt quite early on, as the lingering impact of the rise of Phoebe Bridgers et al. permeates "Charm You", a mellow indie-esque tune bookended by two rather slight piano ballads. "To Me It Was" and the title track occupy a similar nieche, where Samia finds herself occupying territory which is already being done better by artists both established and upcoming elsewhere.
The only real moment of the record which makes a case for itself to appear in your 2023 playlists is the sole pop banger "Mad at Me", a fleeting moment in which Samia brings us that youthful bite which was such a strength on her debut. This is of course immediately followed up by another rather banal piano ballad "Sea Lions", by which point if you're on your first listen through, you've probably come to accept that the oversaturated vocals and damp whole note piano chords are a large chunk of what little Honey
has to offer. The subsequent attempt to pick "Sea Lions" up in the second half of the song with a driving drum machine track feel half-hearted and uninterested. Even where The Baby
mellowed out, it was far more interested in engaging textures and attention to detail than what the instrumentals on Honey
contain. To use the album cover as a point of reference, it wouldn't be inaccurate to think of Honey
as simply Samia's voice lit by washed out shades of what are essentially the same colour.
I don't want to drag Samia's lyrics per se, as I think there is merit in the their construction and their articulation of her own incredibly specific and personal experiences. Unfortunately, her lyrics on Honey
desperately lack greater context to connect them with a broader appeal to the universal human tragedy, thus leaving little for the listener to sway or nod their head along to.
Samia likely has more to offer than Honey
seems willing to demonstrate. Honey
does offer fleeting cause for attention, but in its entirety delivers far to little to justify devoting yourself to the full 40 minutes. The casually interested are likely only going to find merit in the album's singles, while fans bought by Samia's previous efforts are likely going to be left wanting.