EP Review: Saya – Sugarcoated

Monday, September 10, 2018

Toronto-based Saya challenges the concept of genre on her new EP Sugarcoated. The EP blends sleek R&B vocals, deep hip-hop production and a sprinkle of infectious synth-pop — the combination proving to be unquestionably delicious. Sugarcoated explores the emotional impact of a break-up and the many facets associated with it — including the dreaded sadness, hurt, as well as that ‘fuck you’ moment where you accept that you’re probably better off without them. 

The EP opens up with a dose of confidence with ‘Gots It’. Even though it’s a downtempo track, Saya brings the heat with her fierce attitude and assertive vocals. The lyrics talk about flaunting and dropping money on expensive things, because, why not? — “Know you like to see me on my boss shit / So I be getting money on some boss shit”. ‘Gots It’ features darkened electronic production, but Saya’s vocals add a glimmer of sweetness. If listening to the track doesn’t inspire you to spend all your money, you need to go back and listen to it again. Saya also explores post-breakup confidence on ‘Not Nice’. The track dives straight into fiery lyrics — “So you told me she was nothing, but I knew she was something / tell me who you touching, need to know who I’m fucking”. On the track, she also mentions that the person in question will never find someone better than her. The most intriguing part of ‘Not Nice’ is the juxtaposition between the blazing lyrics and the mellow production. In isolation, listening to the instrumental makes you feel calm, but the track finds new meaning with the addition of Saya’s words. It’s a fascinating combination, but a move that’s incredibly brilliant. 

Though Saya’s confidence is undeniable, there are moments on the EP where she opens herself up and showcases her vulnerability. One of these moments is on ‘The Moon’, which is a whimsical track packed with introspective lyricism. Saya’s words appear like a stream of thoughts. The track talks about wanting to escape to the moon, which is a metaphor for wanting to get high and have a moment of reprieve. ‘The Moon’ might be mistaken for a dreamy chilled-out R&B track, but it’s much more than that — the desperation to become numb is powerful when you listen to the project as a whole. ‘Slow Burn’ is also a reflective number that features raw and candid lyrics. The words “I don’t want to die” evoke a strong emotional response. The production is luscious and sensual, but it’s her open lyricism that takes the track to another level. ‘Flowers’ is also storylike in the way it inspires strong imagery through the use of memories. 

‘Side Ting’ presents something that’s different from the rest of the EP. Featuring hypnotic instrumentals, ‘Side Thing’ is the perfect late-night jam. The track discusses an unquenchable feeling of lust. 

Sugarcoated concludes on a soaring note with ‘Played Out’, which is an up-tempo track about the end of a relationship. The dancey-nature of 'Played Out' is what you want to play when you’re searching for confidence after a break-up. ‘Played Out’ is anthemic and deserves to be blasted aloud.

The EP’s title captures everything you need to know about Sugarcoated — blazing and hard-hitting lyricism that's coated in a layer of sweetness, and the mix of them will fulfil all your cravings. 

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)