Review: See Me by Kiana Valenciano

See Me by Kiana ValencianoThere’s this one thing I don’t want to happen every time I listen to an album for review: me thinking, “why am I reviewing this again?” I’m disappointed to say I had that thought halfway through Kiana Valenciano’s debut full-length, See Me. Now, let me clarify, this is not at all Kiana’s fault. She’s perfectly capable, and in some songs I actually felt the styles she took on are limiting her – take how she strains, uncomfortably, on “Want You”. Now, I actually considered if the problem really is me, because this wave of aesthetipop (fka “cool kid pop”) entering Filipino music – you know, when you all went agog over Palm Dreams – really is for kids half my age and a little bit upwards. Is it because I’m thirty? Is it because I grew up listening to stuff that’s more lush than minimal? But then I do listen to that stuff, and some artists really do it well. See Me, on the contrary, feels very color-by-the-numbers: the songwriting is basic, and the production is lazy. Tropical beat here, an arguably whiny rap interlude there, and the customary conversation recorded over the phone about hanging out at some late hour. (The exception, almost, is “Soldier”, because they try to channel some gospel in there. They tried, which says a lot about the rest.) Kiana can do it, but you just know she can do more. It’s a shame someone of her pedigree is held back by an album that’s memorable, fleetingly, for all the wrong reasons. [NB]2/5

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