Troye Sivan isn’t just YouTuber turned musician. He’s also an activist, a former actor, and a powerful lyricist and singer. His first album, “Blue Neighborhood,” was released in December 2015 and received critical acclaim from Rolling Stone magazine, Billboard and the Boston Globe. With his boyish charm, outgoing personality and appeal to a massive audience, Sivan may well become a household name. His sophomore album, “Bloom,” isn’t going to hurt his chances.
The album opens with “Seventeen,” one of two songs that tenderly reflect on his past relationships. He recounts being 17 and meeting up with older men from dating apps through intense imagery and description of experiences he had, including when he sings, “And he said age is just a number, just like any other / We can do whatever, do whatever you want / Boy becomes a man now / Can’t tell a man to slow down / He’ll just do whatever, do whatever he wants.”
This type of reflection on his past also appears in “The Good Side,” a track that was released as the second single on the album. In “The Good Side,” he reflects on the positive aspects of a previous breakup and what it taught him. The most powerful lyrics in this track fall into the verses, including when he sings, “I’ll say I’m proud of all that you’ve done / You taught me the ropes, and you taught me to love.” Reflective tracks like these are powerful to listen to as a member of the audience because they push the listener to reflect on their own experiences. This is one of the album’s consistent strengths.
Another theme in this album is sexuality. Sivan openly expresses his sexuality and discusses his sex life, both in detailed metaphor and explicit terms. This is a major contrast to “Blue Neighborhood,” which had a more innocent, bubblegum pop style. This newfound confidence and make “Bloom” what it is: an ode to sex and self expression. With clever lines such as, “Come on baby play me like a love song / every time it comes on / I get that sweet desire” and “I don’t wanna sleep tonight / Just wanna take that ride,” there is a certain air of unapologetic freedom that can sometimes be hard to find in the modern popular music scene.
Lyrically, the album has greater depth than his previous work. Each song relates to a specific experience or relationship, coupled with powerful imagery. “Bloom” is unique in its portrayal of life as a young gay man; he’s ready to talk about sexuality, his identity, his experiences and his relationships.
As for the sound of “Bloom,” there is a phenomenal balance of upbeat and slow songs. Sivan channels the synth–pop style that was so popular in the 1980s while maintaining a modern edge to his sound. Club-ready tracks “My My My!” and “Dance To This” are punchy, danceable tunes, while “Lucky Strike” and “Plum” mimic something out of a teen movie; aesthetically pleasing and full of upbeat, bouncy tones and powerful vocals.
On the slower side of things, “Seventeen,” “What A Heavenly Way To Die” and “The Good Side” rely on electronic accompaniment to Sivan’s sugary vocals, while “Animal” largely uses bass. “Postcard” recalls a more classic approach to songs with a slower tempo, using piano accompaniment and an acoustic tone not heard in the rest of “Bloom.”
“Bloom” truly showcases how much maturing Sivan has done in the past three years since “Blue Neighborhood” was released. He’s not afraid to be who he really is, which is refreshing to see from a young gay man in modern pop culture. Whether the world is ready or not, here he comes.