When Troye Sivan released his debut album, “Blue Neighborhood,” in 2015, listeners were taken aback by the level of maturity and confidence that seemed to exude from this 20 year-old young man who got his start on Youtube by posting covers that date all the way back to 2007.
Since the debut, Sivan has become blonde, strutted down a runway with Taylor Swift, and written songs from movie soundtracks. Now, after a three year gap between albums, Sivan is back with his sophomore release, “Bloom,” which might just be the most cohesive body of work to ever be released by a pop artist.
Sivan released his first album just two years after he posted a video coming out to the world as a gay teen. According to Sivan, he felt that sharing his story “made a tiny shift in the world.” The authenticity and sincerity possessed the songs on “Bloom,” however, also makes Sivan’s impact on the world seem like more of a bang than just a tiny shift.
With only 10 songs, the album leaves no room for fillers, ensuring each track has been crafted to be uniquely perfect in its own way and proving that Sivan didn’t create a single song intentionally to ensure it hits mainstream radio faster. Instead, Sivan uses his sophomore album to present an autobiographical storyline where he no longer feels the need to dance around the truth of who he is.
The album starts with a track titled “Seventeen,” which was inspired by the idea of a teenage Sivan dating older men he found on Grindr. The song’s stunning slow melody and the addition of ‘ooh’s in the chorus beautifully depicts the image of Sivan slowly embracing this sexuality, as he begins to explore his options and understand how emotions and sexual drive works as a gay teenager. Lyrics like “You say that I’m asleep, but I wanna be awake / Got something here to lose, that I know you wanna take” capture Sivan’s willingness to give into sexual temptation and in turn, lose his innocence.
“My My My!” was the first track to be released for the album in January of 2018, and is still arguably Sivan’s best song to date. The airy vocals mixed with colorful synths and addictive beat, makes for a near flawless pop song — impressive enough for Taylor Swift to have Sivan join her on stage at the Rose Bowl back in May to sing it with her. The song is a wonderful progression from “Seventeen” because it embraces Sivan’s newfound confidence and surety in his love interests and desires.
More often than not, artists who write songs about relationships only ever discuss the pain they themselves are feeling, never stopping to evaluate the pain being felt by the other person, who was once just as invested in the relationship.
In “The Good Side,” Sivan pours out his emotions over an acoustic guitar and piano melody, where he admits that he had a far less challenging time moving on after a break up because touring the world and meeting someone new distracted him from the heartache of the previous relationship. Sivan’s songwriting skills on this track in particular are especially impressive, as the song includes some of the most heart wrenching lyrics ever written in pop music; his voice palpably empathetic as he sings, “I sympathize, and recognize / And baby I apologize / That I got the good side / The good side, of things.”
The album’s title track, “Bloom,” embraces Sivan’s sexuality through the use of witty analogies. Here, he plays on the idea of personalities, feelings, and desires blooming in a new relationship. When the song initially released in May, it received an overwhelming amount of attention, due to the way Sivan cleverly dances around sexual experiences with a partner with lyrics like “Come on baby play me like a love song / Every time it comes on / I get this sweet desire / Yeah I bloom / I bloom, just for you.”
A colorful and larger-than-life music video for the single soon followed, showing Sivan dancing around in various outfits designed with floral patterns and feathers, reminiscent to Spring collections one might spot on a runway at New York Fashion Week. It’s lovely to see that post breakup, Sivan was able to find someone to truly make him feel absolutely, unapologetically himself.
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“Postcard,” featuring Australian singer-songwriter Gordi, was inspired from the time Sivan sent his boyfriend a postcard from Japan, but his boyfriend missed the mailman when he came to deliver it. By the time he visited to post office to pick it up, the postcard had gotten lost. And so, it’s little things like this in the beginning stages of a relationship that make you doubt whether or not you should continue investing your time in a particular person.
The track proves that people tend to subconsciously sabotage their own relationships over the smallest things due to self doubt. Gordi’s voice blends effortlessly over the minimalist piano tune as she sings, “Take your time / Pull me in / Push me out / Simplify all the whispers of doubt.” In the end, they reach a point of surrendering because they come to realize that the only reason they fixate on the little things is because they don’t want to admit that they are in the beginning stages of falling in love, which is why Sivan sings, “But you’re still picking me up / Don’t put me back down / Like it’s nothing to ya / Yeah, you’re still picking me up.”
When it was first revealed that “Dance to This” would feature pop icon Ariana Grande, the song caused quite a stir. Grande and Sivan, who are very close friends, are considered royalty in the pop world and so, it was to go without saying that them collaborating would be iconic. Though the song has the word “dance” in the title, it is not something you should expect to be fistbumping to at a club anytime soon. The beat is subdued and the lyrics describe a couple who prefers to spend the night at home together, rather than go out and party.
“Under the kitchen lights / You still look like dynamite / And I wanna end up on you,” says Sivan in the pre-chorus, before Grande comes in on the second verse with yet another display of Sivan’s open-ended songwriting, as she sings “And dear, my lover / Do that thing we never do sober.”
Thematically, “Plum,” is certainly one of the heavier tracks on the album, as is suggests that even the sweetest things have bitter outcomes, just as a good relationship often comes to a terrible end. “Maybe our time has come / Maybe we’re overgrown / Baby, we’re barely holding, holding on.” And though the song is about accepting that not all relationships are forever, the track’s upbeat delivery, as well as Troye’s emphasis on the word “maybe,” provides listeners with a glimmer of hope that it may be possible to overcome any struggles in a relationship and outlast the time together that was initially suggested.
“What a Heavenly Way to Die” is all sorts of lovely… Here, Sivan’s ethereal voice sings, “What a heavenly want to die / What a time to be alive / Because forever is in your eyes / But forever ain’t half the time / I wanna spend with you,” as he tries to take in all the beauty of his relationship because he’s never experienced such pure bliss. His reference to the relationship being a “heavenly way to die” suggests that even when he and his partner are old, them being together until death does them part, still wouldn’t be enough time to spend with him because their love exists far beyond the horizons of forever.
“Lucky Strike” is the ultimate feel-good pop song on this track. The title references a brand of cigarettes and the lyrics play on that theme as Sivan sings, “Cause you taste like Lucky Strikes / You drag, I light / Boy, tell me all the ways to love you.” Here, Sivan suggests he gets addicted to the love that pierces through the air, arguably more addicting than the high one gets off of smoking cigarettes, and by far more euphoric.
The final track on the album, “Animal,” is without a doubt the most sincere songwriting I’ve heard from any artist ever. The song was written as a dedication track to Sivan’s boyfriend of two years, Jacob Bixenman. Sivan pours out his heart as he sings, “An ode to the boy I love / Boy I’ll die to care for you / You’re mine, mine, mine / Tell me, who do I owe that to?” The song highlights Sivan’s deepest, most sincere feelings for his partner, who’s help him feel completely whole on the inside and out for the first time in his life.
In the 36 minutes that make up all of “Bloom,” Troye Sivan tells the story of his personal love endeavors, all of which have led him to finding his better half. The first part of the album places emphasis on Troye accepting who he is and exploring his sexuality, while the latter half focuses on Sivan finding one person — his person — who makes him feel wholeheartedly free, ending with his profession of love.
Sivan’s sophomore attempt is a praiseworthy departure from his first LP, where Sivan focused primarily on understanding himself as an artist and as a maturing, young adult. The original debut infused a lot indie, pop, and alternative influence, whereas this album is focused on one particular genre that is more true to who Sivan is as an artist. “Bloom” is a glistening pop gem that highlights Sivan’s vocal sincerity, musical complexity, and emotional maturity.
It’s remarkable to see how Sivan was able to completely process the influx of his feelings, verbalize them in the form of lyrics, then put it out into the world in a way that is both poetic and meaningful. Sivan’s songwriting and execution this time around challenged his ability to be vulnerable and authentic, but also resulted in a body of work that is the most real and rewarding.
“Bloom” is Sivan’s love letter to anyone in the world who struggles to feel comfortable in their own skin — to anyone who fears that they will never find their better half in life or that their will never experience pure bliss.
It is a love letter to 16-year-old Troye who, at the time, was mortified to tell the world what makes him different from most others because he was convinced it would force his career to come to an end, even before fully having established one.
The album is a testament to how crucial it is to be honest with yourself and with others and how that can be the difference between spending your whole life feeling constrained versus feeling genuinely free. It is for this reason “Bloom” deserves to be placed high on the list of the most impressive and meaningful albums of the 21st century.
Troye will be bringing the album to life on the North American run of The Bloom Tour starting mid-September, and is expected to release international tour dates soon. More information regarding Sivan’s tour dates can be found here.