It’s frankly unlikely that many 16-year-olds could write an EP as solid as KIAN’s debut, BLISS. Then again, most 16-year-olds weren’t born into a deeply musical family within a creative community in regional Victoria. Born Kian Maxwell Bytyci Browfield, KIAN has a rare, excellent knack for writing relatable, instantly catchy pop songs about growing pains. His velvet voice and blend of pop, hip-hop, and R&B production quickly draws comparisons to “Young Dumb & Broke”-era Khalid. But if Khalid was the carefree, popular kid in school, KIAN was the brooding muso up the back, jotting down angsty musings in his notebook and skipping class to play guitar.
Brownfield wrote his breakout single, “Waiting,” when he was just 14. Over a simple guitar riff that later builds up with heavier drums and choppy distortion, he captures the inimitable thrill of a teen crush—and the anxiety of not knowing whether they like you back. He laments the painful boredom of growing up on “Childism”: “Wake up, eat, school, repeat/Wake up just to fall asleep… Being young’s been haunting me.” The EP’s centerpiece is “Summer Insecurity,” a melancholy, majestic, Frank Ocean-inspired ballad. “Summer’s got me insecure/Outside ain’t a friend of mine,” he sings. “Say it’s greener on the other side/Maybe I’m just color-blind.”