Troye Sivan triumphs in debut album “Blue Neighborhood”

Troye Sivan was once like the little people. He posted music covers on YouTube while being home schooled by his mother, and living with three siblings in a nice suburban home in Australia.

The South African born singer made his debut into music with an awful quality camera, a high voice, and an acoustic guitar.

It’s now 2015, and Sivan has just released his debut album, Blue Neighbourhood (Deluxe Edition). 

Billboard named him one of the most influential artists under 21, and he recently made his American television debut in a $7,000 designer jacket on Jimmy Fallon.

It’s safe to say Troye Sivan isn’t one of the little people anymore.

The deluxe album features before heard songs like WILD, TALK ME DOWN, and FOOLS. Each made an appearance in Sivan’s “Blue Neighbourhood” music video trilogy that introduced us all to a sweet (but fictional) gay relationship, before ultimately real life kicked in and it all got very dark and harrowing.

That goes to show Sivan is more than aware of the tragedy that young LGBT+ people fall victim to. He himself helped pen the song “Heaven” featuring Betty Who, a ballad about Sivan’s personal struggles of coming to terms with his own sexuality, and what that meant for his religion: “Without losing a piece of me / How do I get to heaven? / Without changing a part of me / How do I get to Heaven?”

A highlight of the album is the Australian rapper featured love song “for him.” The chorus demonstrates a new set of vocals of Sivan’s youthful energy, singing in purposeful overly sweet tones with the lyrics “Sickeningly sweet like honey / Don’t need money / All I need is you.” It’s the track that has more than enough potential to dominate the radio.

EMI Music Australia

Going back to his roots, Sivan sings of the suburban life he desperately misses in the melodious “Suburbia” track. “Have you heard me on the radio / Did you turn it up? / On your blown-out stereo in suburbia?” The chorus accompanies soft drum machines and violins dub stepped to bring in a nostalgic feeling reminiscent of Lana Del Rey herself.

“TOO GOOD” and “BITE” fluctuate between being sensual and emotionally redundant. Production wise “BITE” is the overall superior between the two. The track tells the story of Sivan’s first experience in a gay club, while “TOO GOOD” sounds like the aftermath of a one night stand or friends with benefits arrangement. Each romanticized the terrifying feeling of new experiences. “BITE” pulls it off while “TOO GOOD” delivers a slow burn before ultimately puttering out in an anti-climatic string of violins.

“COOL” gets lost in it’s twin track “YOUTH.” Both start in with cut and dry lyrics, a crescendo bridge, before the chorus and heavily edited beats come in. “YOUTH” triumphs with its background repetitive shouts along with the chorus, pulled from the first single “WILD,” while “COOL” loses it’s momentum and listens like a filler between ballads “TALK ME DOWN” and “HEAVEN.” It paints the perfect picture of being rich, pretty, and vulnerable. It’s a sweet-sounding and slowed down version of “Happy Little Pill,” which put Sivan on the map, but loses it’s way.

It’s easy while listening to “Blue Neighborhood” to forget that Sivan is a mere twenty years old and still has much more time to grow as an artist. “LOST BOY” and “BLUE” set the album in Grammy worthy territory, with superb production and melodic, haunting lyrics.

Blue Neighbourhood isn’t lacking in relatable content, nor original lyrics. It’s a concrete debut in it’s purest form: where the lyrics and production fall in place to the point where one listen isn’t nearly enough; even by the third or fourth listen, you’ll still be pulling out lyrical gems that sparks the replay button.

Highlight lyrics:

“COOL”:  “When I’ve got that cigarette smoke / And Saint Laurent coat, but nothing is feeling right / I drink but I choke / I love but I don’t.”

“LOST BOY”: “The truth is that I’m sorry / Though I told you not to worry / I’m just some dumb kid / Trying to kid myself / That I’ve got my shit together.”

“SUBURBIA”: “There’s so much history in my head / The people I’ve left / The one’s that I’ve kept.”

“HEAVEN”: “This voice inside / Has been eating at me / Trying to replace the love that I fake / With what we both need.”

9.5/10

Blue Neighbourhood is released through EMI Music Australia/Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.

 

Brooke Pawling Stennett is a college student pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction in the old Windy City. She tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the tracks when it comes to books and music. She's an avid concert attendee (or at least she tries to!) and rambler. She'd like to travel the world and write about it, but in the only ways she knows how: sarcastically and full of internet jargon. Her opinions are her best ones, especially if they involve boy-bands and Netflix. . .even though she doesn't even have her own account. You can tweet her at @br_stennett and tell her how ridiculous (and totally great!) her opinions are.
  • James

    Great review! Very fair, smart, critical, and praising when the album deserves it.