Lesbian Jesus’s new LP is sapphic pop at its finest


After four years, the affectionately named lesbian Jesus Hayley Kiyoko has returned with her second album, Panorama. With a few single releases joining the two together, Hayley surprised the world in releasing the first instalment of the project – For The Girls – back in May 2022. Playfully turning the heteronormative reality dating show concept on its head, Hayley hard-launched girlfriend Becca Tilley in the music video, browsing her prospective love interests before landing on the ex-Bachelorette contestant as she turns up late, gets out of the car and gives a cheeky wave and a knowing smile.

It comes as little surprise that Panorama is inundated with sapphic energy. After all, it’s what Hayley is known for and what connects her with her fans, many of whom are LGBTQI. It’s a running joke that if she knows who Hayley Kiyoko is, she’s probably queer. Or at least questioning.

If this album has one thing, it’s range. Opener Sugar At The Bottom is a classic Hayley track, lamenting the sour taste a love interest leaves after a breakup, whilst Forever is a love song channelling those lustful, coming of age moments. Whilst the latter channels the sweeping hysteria only an early crush can evoke, the track is actually about the beauty of a long-term relationship and wanting to feel that endlessness forever. What Hayley has done here is quite beautiful, penning accessible pop tracks for queer people wanting to find something to relate to. Whether it’s a break-up or a first date that’s being celebrated or mourned, overt pronoun usage and lusty sapphic lyrics go so far towards representing LGBTQI communities, queer women in particular.

Panorama Artwork. Credit: Trevor Flores

Both Forever and Supposed To Be are reticent of mid-2000s drum beats, with Johnny Rain’s contributions on the former edging the piece towards an Usher or Ne-Yo-style feel. This collection is distinctly Hayley in that it’s playful, electronic and flirty in its content, though Panorama misses the flow between tracks that Expectations excelled at. Those seamless transitions and tiny filler tracks to connect the dots didn’t go amiss.

As ever, Panorama ends on a high note with penultimate track Found My Friends and lead track Panorama. The majority of this album focuses on various love interests from the good to the bad, but Find My Friends explores the meaning that community – and friendship – hold during dark times. “I keep on running beside myself/I keep on running, don’t think I’m well” is an ode to the mental health issues so many LGBTQI people face, and are increasingly facing. On the other side of the pandemic, this track is a welcome tonic, enhancing the meaning that chosen family and community holds for queer people across the globe; there’s beauty in collective responsibility, and solace in embracing the catharsis of closeness. This track is a mantra, taking to the dancefloor to dissipate bad energy with repeated line: “I just wanna dance with you tonight.” Sometimes, that’s the easiest way to tackle a challenging situation.

Again, title track Panorama initially brings it down a notch. Exploring how easy it can be to compare yourself to friends and lovers, it gradually moves towards euphoria. Pausing to take in its surroundings, this track is a gorgeously reflective note to end on. “Today’s the day I’m not passing through/I’m gonna say ‘wait, have you seen the view’?” are words we can all learn from: modern life, sometimes, induces nothing but overwhelm and panic. But really, Hayley is teaching us all here that it’s okay to hit that pause button. Life can be rather beautiful when you sit back and admire the view.

Panorama is out now. To keep up with Hayley, follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Catch her on tour across the US this August.

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