As a young Black queer femme from Los Angeles, I have always felt very represented by Syd. Also from Los Angeles, Syd makes alternative R&B music that pushes the genre into new arenas. She sings openly about her sexuality and love of women, and challenges traditional gender presentation for Black women. With her sophomore album Broken Hearts Club, Syd vulnerably shares her own experience with love and captures the experience of queer relationships through her representational, cinematic musical illustration of the emotional rollercoaster that is yearning, devotion, and affection.
Syd uses her rich yet saccharine voice to take listeners through the ups and downs of her new potential relationship. She starts off asking the question we all ask ourselves when we start feeling someone new: Can you break a heart? Her choice to abbreviate this song title to “CYBAH” reflects the common, casual nature with which we all ask ourselves this question as we explore our relationships. There is very little scarier than choosing to take a risk and opening your heart to someone new. No matter the amount of meditation or manifestation, there’s no way to know how a new relationship will end.
The next three tracks on the album perfectly capture the beginning stages of a new relationship. You know that dreamy phase where you can’t get enough of your new person? In “Tie the Knot,” Syd is already questioning if this girl could “be the one.” In “Fast Car,” the new rush of adventure and intimacy takes over. And the relationship further develops in “Right Track” as Syd is ready to “make you mine.”
Then we enter the honeymoon phase. Everything is going so well, you can hardly believe it. You never want to let this feeling go. Your heart swells every time you’re near your new love, and the very sight of her makes you feel complete. As Syd sings in “Sweet,” her new love interest feels “gifted onto[ [her] from up above” like a blessing. Finally, the romance of your dreams has entered your life, and it just feels so right. You are no longer in “Control,” your heart is as infatuation takes over. When you’re away from her, you count the days until you can see her next, impatiently waiting to spend the nights cuddling, making love, and staying up together to make up for lost time, just like Syd sings in “No Way” and “Getting Late.”
The final section of the album perfectly captures the devolution of love, which most often begins when it’s time to define the relationship. You know how you feel — you’re in love — but you cannot help but wonder why the person you love isn’t telling her friends or shouting from the rooftops like you have been. Syd starts to question if it’s just as real for her love interest as it is for her, wondering why she hasn’t declared her love “Out Loud.” It’s so real in your own heart that waiting around for an answer is no longer an option, as Syd sings in “Heartfelt Freestyle.”
Despite asking if she can/will break your heart at the beginning of the album, the heartbreak happens anyways. Your love interest isn’t ready to take things to the next level, leaving you no choice but to break things off for the sake of your own heart. In “BMHWDY,” Syd sings “You told me you would never do this shit to me,” a statement that has echoed in my own mind during heartbreak many times. Just like the abbreviation of “CYBAH,” the abbreviation of “BMHWDY” represents how common heartbreak truly is—it’s one of the most universal and colloquial, yet profoundly painful experiences within humanity.
Syd closes the album with the exact kind of reflection that occurs at the end of all relationships. You’re left thinking about how things could have been different if we spent the energy and time working to improve our relationship and ourselves. You’re forced to bid your relationship and your memories “Goodbye My Love.” But she also closes by capturing the energy of knowing you are a catch despite the heartache, because if she chose to leave you, as the baddie you are, she’s “Missing Out.”
Syd’s new album is a musically beautiful illustration of the excitement, joy, sensuality, passion, and pain that accompany love. Consider me part of the Broken Hearts Club.