On ‘Bloom,’ Troye Sivan’s Confident Display Of Joy Establishes Him As Pop’s Future

09.04.18 12 months ago

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“You should know I’m green, but I’ll find my way around,” Troye Sivan sings on the opening track of Bloom. Sivan is narrating a first hookup — the vulnerability it takes to put yourself out there, to open yourself up to experience, to be a person out in the world as it looks right now. A “Seventeen” goes on and climbs up-tempo, Sivan loses his nerves and grows more confident. The drums pound louder. The synths shimmer brighter. Toward the end of the song, he’s joined by an intermittent feminine shout of “hey!.” It’s an expression of joy and catharsis, and it sounds a little like the spirit of Carly Rae Jepsen is popping in to say hi. Give yourself up to happiness. Chase it. I dare you.

Bloom is such a great album that I can’t help but resent it a little. Sivan is infuriatingly articulate, cutting right down to the quick of complicated emotions. Sivan feels things more deeply than the rest of us repressed humanoids, and his skill in accessing his vulnerability and pumping it for bops is downright superhuman. Bloom is only Sivan’s second studio album, but it’s such a massive step up in songwriting and production from 2015’s Blue Neighbourhood that you have to wonder if he is some beautiful alien sent here to give us bangers and teach us how to be better.

That’s not to say that Blue Neighbourhood wasn’t impressive in its own right, or that Bloom as an album is Sivan’s first noteworthy accomplishment. “Youth,” off Sivan’s first album, was great, but it felt like a prelude. The Australian singer was gearing up to shake the earth. The first single off Bloom, “My, My, My!,” was the foretold earth-shaking. The song is incredible, from the bite of its sexy lyrics (“I’ve got my tongue between your teeth”) to the catharsis of the chorus. We didn’t call it one of the best pop songs of the year so far for nothing. And though Bloom doesn’t have that much new material — since “My, My, My!,” Sivan released four other tracks as promotional singles — the five new tracks, and the way they’re assembled on the record, are fantastic. From “Seventeen” to the dramatic fireworks of “Animal,” Sivan opens his heart and lets us watch.

This depth of honesty and vulnerability is expected from someone who gained fame as a vlogger on YouTube. The fans who have been with Sivan from the early days got to know him as he poured out his guts and shared his experiences on screen, sitting in front of a webcam, and looking right in their eyes. I watched Sivan’s coming out video in 2013, huddled in the desk hutch under my lofted dorm bed, one of a series of videos I had on a YouTube playlist for when I wanted to watch other kids being brave. In that coming out video, Sivan is visibly terrified. His big blue eyes look into the camera like a deer in headlights. By 2013, Sivan’s Youtube channel already had tens of thousands of subscribers, enough that he had fans and, potentially, something to lose by coming out. But the video was met with an outpouring of support, Sivan signed a record deal as an openly gay teen. The rest is history.

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