Every so often, an album springs from nowhere to challenge the public’s preconceptions of Pop music. Back in 2014, Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ obliterated existing Pop music and marked the arrival of 80’s influenced electropop with Carly Rae Jepsen successfully following a similar formula a year later. Troye Sivan’s ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ is the latest album to do just that.
Whilst still unfamiliar to many, to those he is known by, Troye Sivan is adored. He is certainly a man of many talents. As an actor, he played young James Howlett in X-Men Origins: Wolverine in addition to starring in the Spud film trilogy. He is also a popular YouTuber with over 3.6 million subscribers. He has now turned his attention to singing and songwriting to become the latest music sensation.
‘Blue Neighbourhood’ is a fierce album abundant with squeaky synthesisers, delicate piano chords, intoxicating drops and spectral electro samples. Lyrically, it’s an album of adolescence, heartbreak and affirmation with an emphasis on sexuality.
Lead single ‘Wild’ is a bold album opener with an irresistibly catchy hook performed by a children’s choir. It’s a dramatic dream-pop influenced track which documents infatuation perfectly. The rest of the album follows in similar fashion: eerie vocal clips reverberating infinitely, Sivan’s vulnerable vocals and jittery percussion all forming a perfect electronic sound-scape well-balanced in both heartache and fun.
It’s often an album of contradictions: the solemn lyrical content the antithesis of the fuzzy electro tracks, Sivan’s pensive lyrics at odds with his age and lyrics such as ‘I’m just a lost boy, not ready to be found’ on ‘Lost Boy’. This forms part of the album’s success, however. It’s compelling from start to finish, with the right levels of rise and fall.
Many of its tracks are deceptive in nature, opening as tender piano ballads before evolving into jittery synthpop tracks. ‘Fools’ is a prime example, on which Sivan’s bruised vocals smother gentle piano chords before an electronic hook launches in. ‘Talk Me Down’ also begins softly before transforming into a reverberating and eerie ballad on which the lyrics address homophobia.
‘DKLA’ (Don’t Keep Love Around) opens with stunning eerie strings but evolves into a dark R&B/Trap-influenced track on which Sivan pines that he no longer ‘keeps love around’. It’s far more mature than the rest of the album and one of the highlights on ‘Blue Neighbourbood’.
‘For Him.’ is a more care-free, light-hearted addition to the album featuring staccato piano chords, kicking drum machines and funky guitar riffs. It breaks up the album nicely. Likewise, ‘Cool’ is a buoyant affair with dreamy 80’s-influenced synths, and a catchy, chilled-out Chorus.
One of the album’s stand out moments is ‘Youth’, a bouncy track, which at times is reminiscent of Lorde, with an electrifying hook formed of broken pitch-increased vocal samples. “My youth is yours”, Sivan offers, once again conforming to the naivety present in the rest of the album.
‘Suburbia’ is a fitting finale to the album, a symphonic and fluttery conclusion which, similarly to the album title, addresses compact neighbourhoods and adolescence.
Never has an album captured contemporary Pop so perfectly. It’s emotive and enthralling throughout; a perfect pop album.
- Rating: 5/5.
- Album Highlights: Wild, Fools, Ease, DKLA, Heaven, Youth.
‘Blue Neighbourhood’ is available now on EMI/Capitol records.