I had low expectations from actor-turned-youtube star-turned singer Troye Sivan, even though I was intrigued by his 2014 single Happy Little Pill. I pretty much dismissed him as an already-established brand attempting to expand his name into new ventures without having anything legitimate to offer. Like if Tyler Oakley or Ryan Seacrest released an album.
Turns out, there was more below the surface. On Blue Neighbourhood, Troye wears his emotions on his sleeve with songs that are clearly his. Consisting of mostly mellow smooth synth-pop songs, the record is genuine, honest and open.
Mostly he sings about love, longing and comfort, and reminisces about the “basics and the simple life” of his pre-fame home on Ease and again on Suburbia.
While there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or earth-shattering about the record, it’s worth noting that despite being openly gay with a mainstream audience and songs that don’t try to avoid it, his sexuality hasn’t become the focus of who he is, nor is it made into a statement in his songs. They’re natural and free-flowing. It’s merely a footnote.
But it’s not something that gets completely passed over. Heaven is about coming to terms with his orientation and what that meant to his relationships with family, friends and God. In it, he sings “without changing a part of me/How do I get to heaven?” before coming to a crossroads between the two: “So if I’m losing a piece of me/Maybe I don’t want heaven?”
He’s clearly accepted it as the rest of the album wavers through relationships and desires. On the tender Talk Me Down, he wants nothing more than to “sleep next to” and “hold hands” with his beau in lieu of being alone, while for the seductive Bite, a song he wrote about his first time at a gay club, he objectifies himself, “I can be the subject of your dreams/Your sickening desire.”
Blue Neighbourhood has a lot to offer, but not enough to justify its length. At 16 tracks over one hour for the Deluxe Edition (which may as well be the regular), it’s a long record that doesn’t provide a lot of variation, with tracks that are clearly inferior sprinkled throughout. Troye is still carving out his own sound and the foundation for it does exist on this record. He values being genuine and honest over crafting the next big pop hit. His next step is to know when to cut.
4. Ease [featuring Broods]
5. The Quiet
6. DKLA [featuring Tkay Maidza]
7. Talk Me Down
9. Heaven [featuring Betty Who]
11. Lost Boy
12. for him. [featuring Allday]
14. Too Cool
15. Blue [featuring Alex Hope]
16. Wild [XXYYXX Remix]