Monday 7 December 2015

Troye Sivan - Blue Neighbourhood

Troye Sivan - Blue Neighbourhood

There’s a sadface teen inside us all. And with Troye Sivan’s debut album, we now have the means to indulge our teen fantasies.

It’s called ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ and it’s clear that Sivan himself is feeling pretty blue, wracked with teen anxiety. The Quiet, for instance, depicts a relationship ending in silence (“anything hurts less than the quiet”); on Cool, he’s just “tryna be cool” to impress his lover; “my youth is yours” he claims on Youth; and Lost Boy appropriately explores loss of identity and unknown feelings of love. The track titles alone should give an idea as to the pain, angst and inner turmoil present in each song.

Together, though, they paint an incredibly cinematic musical picture of the lives of millennial teens – in shades of blue no less. Sivan may have begun his career on YouTube, but it’s clear that his popularity has risen due to the relatable nature of his music. Even those past their teens can look back on these songs with a sense of nostalgia. And when Sivan does delve into other ideas, as on Suburbia that explores his rise to fame, it’s done through the lens of the everyman with its imagery of suburban life.

Yet Sivan achieves more: in his music, he’s normalising gay relationships. for him. is the most obvious love song here, but its title is enough to describe the subject. Bite, meanwhile, portrays Sivan’s trepidation after he first visited a gay club (“please don’t bite”). It’s in his videos that he’s making waves though – together they outline a same-sex relationship and the difficulties faced. It is comforting to know that in 2015, an openly gay popstar with a huge youthful following is free to explore his feelings in the public eye.

The extended narrative doesn’t quite work in the context of the album. In deluxe form, ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ is a lengthy collection of songs whose downbeat nature does become a slight dirge. The production is awash with trap beats and sombre synths that squelch and fizz, encapsulating the sounds of current pop. What is sometimes missing is the edginess of, say, Lorde (an obvious contemporary) and Sivan’s vocal is perhaps unremarkable. More so, anyone familiar with his recent EP ‘Wild’ will have heard the best on offer here.

Yet it’s the honesty of the songwriting that really impresses, wrapped up in nagging hooks and production that’s warm and comforting one minute and coldly modern the next. It’s no coincidence that a popstar whose fame has arisen on the internet would create an album full of computerised music, but there’s genuine heart here that pulls it all together.

When it works, it results in excellent pop like opener (and standout) Wild. It might focus on the rush of new love, but its downbeat production and yearning melodies create a thrilling juxtaposition – happy-sad pop at its finest that’s not just for internet savvy sadface teens to revel in.


Gizzle’s choice:
* Wild
* Fools
* The Quiet

Listen: 'Blue Neighbourhood' is available now.