Colleen Reviews K.Flay’s “Solutions”

Colleen Reviews K.Flay’s “Solutions”

Kristine Flaherty began her music career as a sophomore at Stanford University, where she discovered her love for rapping. Since then, she has adopted the moniker K.Flay, shared stages with Snoop Dogg and Passion Pit, and released three studio albums. Her latest album, Solutions, is a joyous ode to summer, self-love, and finding the strength to start over.

While K.Flay began her career as a rapper, she is continuing  to veer towards pop with Solutions. She doesn’t do much rapping on the album, but instead  infuses her singing with a relaxed and expressive sense of rhythm. Many of the songs are thematically upbeat, and nearly all of them are explosively joyous. The album embodies the freedom and excitement of a warm summer night.

Kristine Flaherty (a.k.a K.Flay) said in an interview with GQ that in the past, she has been “motivated by sadness,” but when writing Solutions, she was driven to create an “upbeat,” “hopeful,” and “happy” record. The inspiration for such a joyous album was a budding relationship with fellow musician Miya Folick. The two publicly came out as a couple with matching Instagram posts that celebrated both Pride and their one-year anniversary. Folick shows up explicitly a few times throughout the album, most notably on “Nervous,” where Flaherty describes breaking down self-protective walls at the beginning of a new relationship. Their relationship does More than just provide thematic material: it  sets a sunny tone for the album’s ten tracks.

Solutions begins with an infectiously upbeat summer jam, “I Like Myself (Most of the Time).” Like any catchy pop song, it has a toe-tapping beat and explosive chorus, and the song instantly put a smile to my face upon first listen. But what makes the song’s optimism so alluring is its honesty. Flaherty is releasing this song at a time when the phrases “self-love” and “treating yourself” have become commodities, and where corporations are selling confidence in the form of manicures and mimosas. 

This song is a clap-back to the world of social media, where people are pressured to portray an idyllic version of themselves and live under the pressure of always appearing “perfect.” Saying “I like myself most of the time” is an honest reflection of self-confidence; being comfortable in your own skin doesn’t mean pretending to have it together all the time. 

A four-on-the-floor beat pulses throughout the song, creating momentum that rises to a cathartic climax in the song’s chorus. This beat pushes the song forward, and the chorus’ release of energy shows  just how liberating it can be to lift the pressure of appearing flawless from your shoulders.

Flaherty’s self-assured joy shines through the rest of the album, as she makes it clear that she isn’t putting up with “Bad Vibes” and “send[s] her love to all the haters.” Halfway through the album she admits that she needs some “Good News;” and while things might not always be looking up for her, she finds hope in both her own self-assurance, and in the strength of her relationships.

One of the main themes that Flaherty grapples with on Solutions is family. “Sister” is an ode to ride-or-die female friendship, and forging unbreakable bonds on the foundation of love and commitment rather than blood. In “DNA,” Flaherty addresses her biological father, who passed away, and had a distant role in her upbringing. “I don’t want to be like you / But either way, I got you in my DNA,” Flaherty sings on the song’s chorus. 

Whether it’s self-love, relationships, or family, Flaherty unravels a lot of preconceptions on Solutions. She unrolls the map that others have laid out for her, and creates a fresh new one for herself. “I wanna get in the car, I’m ready to go, / I’m ready to start things over” she sings on “Good News.” By the end of Solutions Flaherty has turned the ignition, pulled off the brake, and is on her way to a new destination—one that she has set for herself.

Score: Biting the bottom of an ice cream cone and racing yourself to eat it before it spills out onto the sidewalk.

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