Troye Sivan welcomes us to his neighbourhood.
It is tempting to write off Troye Sivan as yet another teenage internet sensation who has more Twitter followers than actual talent. Pleasantly surprising, then, is his debut album Blue Neighbourhood that defies all expectations and delivers a cohesive set of blissful pop tracks that are well worth a listen or three.
Sivan collaborates with an impressive group of young singers, songwriters and producers on Blue Neighbourhood and their influences are both highly noticeable and welcomed. Jack Antonoff (co-producer of Taylor Swift‘s 1989) helps Sivan poignantly address his own struggle with religiosity and sexuality on Heaven, Aussie rappers Tkay Maidza and Allday offer slick verses on DKLA and For Him respectively, and Betty Who and Alex Hope sound stellar on their tracks with Sivan. Front and centre, however, is Sivan himself, his voice floating effortlessly above the production that complements his vocals without obscuring them, soaring highest on Wild and Too Good. Even on synth-heavy bangers Youth and Lost Boy that build steadily towards exciting drops, Sivan shows that he is more than capable of holding his own on towering dance tracks. Oppositely, he demonstrates a confidence – but also a vulnerability – well beyond his years in slow-burning ballads Blue and Cool.
Blue Neighbourhood is also heavily influenced by other young modern artists. Tracks like Fools and Talk Me Down are as emotionally charged as Adele‘s best work, the trap-inspired production of Bite recalls Lorde‘s Pure Heroine and Cool sounds like it was ripped straight from Frank Ocean‘s Channel Orange. This is both Blue Neighbourhood’s most damning fault and its greatest achievement. A lack of originality means that Sivan’s debut is far from a game changer, but he borrows from the right artists to evolve his own sound thoughtfully without drifting into plagiarist territory. Besides, one has to look pretty hard to find a modern pop album that doesn’t “pay homage” to one artist or another.
In the end, though, Blue Neighbourhood succeeds in being precisely what it tries to be – a collection of impressive tracks that will rack up high play counts in the iTunes libraries of Sivan’s fanbase. Those outside of Troye’s loyal following might just find themselves seduced by his charm as well. If one album this year is worthy of being your guilty pleasure, this one is probably it.
Listen to: Wild, Youth and Cool.
Album Rating: 9/10
Blue Neighbourhood is available everywhere.
Note: Check out Troye’s official Vevo account to see the beautiful three-part music video for Blue Neighbourhood.
Words: Aidan Chalmers