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WPGM Recommends: Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood (Album Review)

troye sivan bad neighbourhood
The 4th of December has long since been stereotyped as a particularly vicious day because it’s the first week of what is supposed to be the chilliest month of the year, especially when that date falls on a Friday, like this year – it visits almost everyone in a tired and positively knackered manner, forcing us to leave the bed when we’d rather do anything but that. However, days like that are made a million times better when you realise there’s something special waiting for you, and on this rather tiring day, that present from the universe just so happened to be Troye Sivan’s debut studio album, Blue Neighbourhood.

Even though he originally started singing publicly several years prior to his first ever EP titled Dare To Dream in 2007, followed by June Haverly in June 2012 – by which time, he had around 27,000 subscribers on Youtube – it wasn’t until he started making video blogs – or “vlogs” – in September 2012 that more people finally started paying attention to South African-born Australian, Troye Sivan.

As we were still in the middle of the ‘Youtube Era’, Sivan managed to turn that attention into an enormous fanbase – a fanbase that today amounts to more than 3 million subscribers on his Youtube channel, and an equal amount of Twitter followers. In a world where social media now does more than just let you post your mood on a website, these numbers mean a lot more than simple sales and the amount of times a song has been played.

However, despite his rapidly increasing fame, it was two years later, in 2014, when he finally released new music: a brand new EP with the name, TRXYE – this was also a year after getting signed to EMI Australia, a Universal Music Australia label. The EP debuted at at number one on iTunes in more than 55 countries, and even made the top five on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, the following week. It features the major hit, “Happy Little Pill” – a song that tackles a rather mature topic, but still manages to keep a happy beat.

A year later, 2015 saw the release of yet another brilliant EP, Wild. It features songs that went on to become a part of Sivan’s debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, due for release three months later, as it was said to be an introduction for the album. It debuted at number five in the United States, while in Australia, it debuted at number one, creating something brilliant in its own right, as this was the first time ever, an EP had debuted and reached the top of the Australian Albums chart. Still only twenty years old and without even a debut studio album out, Troye Sivan was already breaking records and taking names.

As was to be expected from this multi-talented individual, Sivan’s debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, took everyone – including his fans – by surprise. With this new release, Troye Sivan has proved yet again that he is here to reinvent pop; to create a new kind of pop and turn almost everything into an anthem. That anthem-y sound is extremely important to Blue Neighbourhood, because it is actually trying to convey a very important message: love and life and loss.

This is further established by the music videos for “Wild”, “Fools” and “Talk Me Down”: a series of videos that show the progression of a same-gender relationship from childhood to the suicide of Sivan’s love interest, after having struggled through a lifetime of homophobia. This, of course, is a rather important theme for Sivan, who publicly came out as gay about two years ago, and has been providing support and solidarity to other members of the LGBTQ+ community ever since.

Blue Neighbourhood starts off with “Wild“, an upbeat song with joyful lyrics that make you feel like you’re out on the town. It transitions seamlessly into “Bite”, a much quieter version of the same electro-pop Sivan has managed to perfect with his music. “Fools” has a much more melancholic sound, something that is immediately contrasted by “Ease”, which has a surprise feature by the New Zealand music duo, Broods.

The Quiet” is yet another sad song, that chronicles the inevitability that most relationships are doomed to end, no matter how much love and affection has been filtered through. “DKLA”, yet another song with a feature on the album – this time, it’s Australian rapper, Tkay Maidza – once again contrasts with the previous song, as well as the song that immediately follows.

Talk Me Down” has an air of wistfulness to it, something that’s already established as soon as the song begins: “I wanna sleep next to you” and continues with the imagery of the kind of shadow overcast by death (“so come over now and talk me down”), perfectly reflecting the music video that accompanies the song.

Cool” is a song about reclaiming one’s sense of self, especially after a relationship or friendship that was built on trying to be ‘cool’ in an attempt to impress. “Heaven”, featuring Australian singer, Betty Who, explicitly speaks about not being straight in a heteronormative world, with the chorus: “Without losing a piece of me / without changing a part of me, how do I get to heaven?” The next couple of songs, “Youth”, “Lost Boy”, “for him.”, “Suburbia”, “Too Good” and “Blue”, all follow the same vein of lost love and trying to find yourself.

An additional song on the album that is only available as a Target exclusive, “Swimming Pools” reverts right back to the previously stated melancholy, with the song’s first verse starting off with: “So tell me how I’m gonna get past this wave to empty swimming pools, ‘cause I just wanna be at the start after loving you”. This is definitely an album worth putting on repeat, even if that means feeling all the emotions compressed into an LP, wrung out every time someone presses play on the first track.

Troye Sivan has released something incredible with Blue Neighbourhood, and it begs us to give it our full attention, especially with the undertones that anyone that’s ever felt like an underdog can easily relate to. Blue Neighbourhood is available on Spotify, and you can also buy it here on iTunes, or buy a physical copy of the album here.

Words by Qurat-ul-anne Sikander
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