Album Review: Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood

Troye Sivan Blue Neighbourhood cover

Troye Sivan is believable pop star on debut album
Troye Sivan is only 20 years old, but he has been active in the entertainment industry for quite some years. He started out as a child actor and made a name for himself by becoming the most famous vlogger of his home country, Australia. All this time he was also aiming at a career as a musician and in 2013 he signed Universal Music in Australia and released two EPs in 2014 and 2015. This fall, he shook up the internet with three music videos that made up the Blue Neighbourhood trilogy, a story about a doomed love affair between Troye and his youth friend. Now the full album with the same title is out.

The above mentioned visuals, accompanying the tracks ‘Wild’, ‘Fools’ and ‘Talk Me Down’, showed the complexities of two young guys who are in love with each other in a striking, personal and emotional way which is hearable in the songs on his debut album as well. Troye’s way of songwriting is honest, open and relatable to the youth of today. In the track ‘Cool’ he touches upon subjects every teenager once deals with: “I was just trying to be cool, I was just trying to be like you”, he confesses in the last chorus. On ‘Heaven’, featuring the vocals of Betty Who, he explains the struggle of the LGBT community in relation to religion. “Without changing a part of me, how do I get to heaven?” he asks himself, before revealing his answer: “If I’m losing a piece of me, maybe I don’t want heaven.” He manages to voice the struggles of young people in a mature way by being straight to the point, honest with a sense of nostalgia, without getting too sentimental about it. Both lyrically and sonically he could be seen as the male answer to New Zealand’s superstar Lorde.

Troye managed to carve out a sound for himself that is inspired by electronica, but at the same time very much pop, like the irresistibly catchy ‘Wild’, about the the feeling of falling in love. Together with his main collaborator, songwriter and producer Alex Hope, he comes up with memorable choruses with soaring melodies that easily find a way into your head, but often followed by some banging beats that give his sound the needed edge, for example on ‘Fools’. He takes it even further on deluxe edition track ‘Bite’: a quirky and haunting production with piano, a strong hook and a hypnotic beats breakdown as a chorus. The single ‘Talk Me Down’ explores a slower kind of sound with a heartbreaking atmosphere and his crystal clear vocals, making the emotions all the more tangible, but still staying true to the electronic character of the record.

The standard edition of the record is closed by ‘Suburbia’, Sivan’s ode to Perth, the city he grew up. “Could be playing hide and seek from home, can’t replace my blood. Yeah, it seems I’m never letting go of suburbia”, he states while wondering if the people back home haven’t forgotten about him and play his tunes on the radio. It’s a suiting closure to an album that could be described as the coming of age story of a young guy from the city. Troye Sivan might still be young, but this debut album makes clear he knows what he wants and how he should sound. This is not some¬†actor and vlogger also doing music. This is the self aware and impressive debut of a promising artist who already is a force to be reckoned with.

Must listen: Wild, Fools, Talk Me Down, Heaven, Suburbia, Bite

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