Album Review: Troye Sivan – ‘Blue Neighbourhood’
The music industry isn’t what it used to be. Back in the day, you absolutely needed a major label behind you in order to lift you career off the ground. No exceptions asked. These days, it’s a different story; none of that matters anymore. There are so many different platforms that allow an artist to begin their career, grow a fan base, and evolve.
Cut to Troye Sivan: a 20 year old Australian lad who rose to prominence over the years via YouTube. What stared as a little channel dedicated towards vlogging, turned into something else. It proved to be a true catalyst for Sivan after a major label signed him in 2013. With a handful of singles and several EPs under his belt, we’re finally faced with Troye’s debut album, ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ – an ambient synth-pop collection of songs that positions him as an idol for his generation and breaks the YouTube stereotype once and for all.
Like many young artists in the alt-pop genre, ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ is a coming of age record that finds Troye coming to grips with his identity, growing up (the chic and smooth ‘Cool’), and the effects of his newfound fame (‘Suburbia’).
The album opens up with a handful of songs found on Sivan’s latest EP, ‘Wild’. The EP’s title track about a forbidden relationship finding life in the shadows acts as a lush opener as do the familiar ‘Fools’ and ‘Ease’. It isn’t until a quarter of the way in that we’re greeted with new material.
As we dive into the new material, there’s one prominent theme that’s woven throughout the remaining tracks: love. On the album’s first single, ‘Talk Me Down’, Troye finds himself searching for comfort in a partner. – a the song that proves to be the heart of the record. Elsewhere, Troye longs to leave his town behind and runaway with the Clyde to his, well, Clyde on ‘Youth’ and ‘for him.’ acts as a poetic love letter to that special guy that’s currently in Troye’s life.
It isn’t all sunshine and roses on ‘Blue Neighbourhood’. ‘Lost Boy’ tugs on those heartstrings as Troye sings about his fear of commitment and an unpleasant breakup, but it’s the Betty Who assisted ‘Heaven’ that proves to be a real heartbreaker. Troye gets rather candid about the struggles with his sexuality and the idea of acceptance. It’s nothing short of brave and an anthem for his gay fans struggling with the same issues.
And that brings us to the fact that Troye is launching his career at a pretty special time. Being a gay artist in pop music shouldn’t be the most important thing about Troye (after all, he has a lot more to offer than his sexuality), but for some reason it feels like should be.
Sivan is one of a kind compared to other contemporary male pop stars that openly discuss their homosexuality. Mainly, it’s due to the fact that he’s the same age as his fans – they can turn to the music found on ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ and find comfort and look to him as a leader.
The expectations that come with that are a lot to live up to; but if this album is the note he’s starting out on, we don’t see him succumbing to that pressure or failing to touch millions of kids all over the world.