REVIEW: "the baby," the debut album from samia
Bleeding vulnerability in the coolest way possible, Samia on her debut album lets us inside a world of ethereal tunes and out-and-out honesty. Despite being her first full-length release, The Baby already feels mature (very ironic, considering the title, hehe) - Samia’s an artist who’s seemingly found her identity very quickly. Compared to past releases, such as “Someone Tell the Boys,” a punk rock feminist anthem, the songs on The Baby are much more toned down, folk-rock at their hardest. It’s a refined record of all the emotions that come along with the beginnings of adulthood.
The opening track “Pool” is, dare I say, my favorite album opener of all time. It begins foggy at first, then a voicemail of a woman, maybe a family member, reciting Samia’s name comes in, and off we go. It’s reminiscent of an early The 1975 track as far as genre goes, but the lyrics are a looming incantation of a person caught between youth and adulthood, needing others.
From there, we jump right into “Fit N Full.” Released as a single back in June, it’s the kind of song you blast as you drive through your parents’ neighborhood, waiting for everyone to tell you how ridiculously fucking cool you're being. Commentative on the diet culture our modern world has embraced ("Got prettier in Denver / Phasing out of this old fairy tale / Apple cider, vinegar and kale / I'm fit and full as ever"), “Fit N Full” pairs a difficult theme with a fun, catchy melody. Performative and bold, as Samia at her truest seems to be, the chorus proudly offers, “If you want, I can take it off / And show you what my mama gave me.” Samia doesn’t shy away from vulnerability.
Her lyrics are really just such a treat. I want to print them out, paste them all over my bedroom walls, go at ‘em with a highlighter, and just read every line, again, again, again. Every line is intentional, every line paints a picture, every line adds to the story. Every. Line. Makes you feel. Some of my favorites are, “Flipping your head / Trying to hide behind hair that is not grown yet,” from “Does Not Heal” and “And your body’s just the housing thing / For the song that I’m confounded by” from “Winnebago.” Poetry.
Samia breathes out such intense vocals with ease. It’s wild to hear all her talent and control come to center stage on this record, especially in the delicate closer, “Is There Something in the Movies?” Speaking to Pitchfork about the track, Samia said, “It’s a song about heartbreak and disenchantment with the entertainment industry [..] I felt betrayed by someone honoring that fantasy over my love. Glorifying the idea of legacy or life as a means to an end makes me really sad, especially when it comes to people dying young." An act of rebellion by its placement itself, the song (similar to "Fit N Full") questions a culture we so often glamorize, ripping down the ‘live fast die young’ narrative and crying, “Everyone dies, but they shouldn’t die young.” It’s an interesting choice for the final song, meditative and incredibly powerful. It pulls the album together, centering back on the sincere, pure openness The Baby brings.
This album is going to be big. Samia’s ability to blend her ethereal vocals with heartwrenching, epic lyrics is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. The Baby is a record that will follow me (and hopefully you, too!) as I grow; the themes are longlasting. I can’t wait to sit with it and hear something new with each listen.