“Haiz” is fun but fluffy

When Hailee Steinfeld announced her intention to release her first single, I was extremely skeptical. I had somehow convinced myself that there was no way someone who had so firmly established herself in one industry (she was nominated for an Oscar at 13) could possibly display any significant talent in a completely different medium.

At the tail end of this summer, Steinfeld released her debut single, “Love Myself,” and I suddenly found this perception shattered. “Love Myself” was in no way going to reinvent pop music, nor was it sonically interesting enough to distinguish itself from most of what’s currently being played on the radio. It was however, a joyous, undeniably infectious, hardly remarkable pop song. I downloaded the track immediately and listened to it for several consecutive hours.

The appeal of “Love Myself” is consistent through much of“HAIZ,” Steinfeld’s debut EP. Over the course of four tracks, she creates a landscape that’s so slick, insanely catchy and mostly inoffensive, that it should spell future success for Steinfeld in the world of pop music.

Another trait of “HAIZ” that should work in Steinfeld’s favor is that she seems to be, at least thematically, borrowing from more established artists in the genre. On the cringingly titled “Hell Nos and Headphones,” Steinfeld sings of being trapped at a party while she would rather be anywhere else. It’s a track cut from the mold of Lorde, Alessia Cara and other teenage artists currently dominating pop radio.

Steinfeld does, however, have some work to do vocally before she’ll be able to rival her peers. Her voice is often thin and limited in a way that isn’t surprising for someone who’s best known for acting, as well as being a part of Taylor Swift’s all-encompassing friend group. “HAIZ” does, however, do a good job of compensating for any weaknesses in its artists’ vocals. On “Rock Bottom,” the track that demands the most from Steinfeld’s voice, she is hardly ever left without a propulsive, bouncy beat or heavily hyped drop to accompany her.

Lyrically, “HAIZ” does allow Steinfeld to be a bit more subversive. While most of “You’re Such A” dances around the use of actual pejorative terms, it does contain the definitive 21st century kiss-off, “See you smoking those electronic cigarettes, are you joking?” “Love Myself,” while on its surface about self-empowerment, it’s not hard to decode the lines in the song that reveal it to be an ode to masturbation.

“HAIZ” is, above all, fluffy, insignificant pop, but there’s a self-awareness that courses through these four tracks that ultimately make it a success, and a generally solid debut for a burgeoning pop star like Hailee Steinfeld. It’s music that carries no pretense or delusion, with no intention of doing anything but lodging these songs into your brain until you eventually forget about them.

Album: “HAIZ”
Artist: Hailee Steinfeld
Release: Nov. 13
Rating: ★★★☆☆