Aussie star Sivan shines in sophomore album

Photo courtesy of Capital Records

Lively pop production underscored by an 80’s synth style summarizes the sound profile for Troye Sivan’s sophomore album “Bloom.” The 23-year-old Australian hit the mainstream after the release of his debut album “Blue Neighbourhood” in 2015.

Generating 11.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the former YouTube sensation has taken over the radio space, acquiring Ariana Grande as a feature on his newest album.

The album bases its lyrics off of Troye’s LGBTQ+ background. The 36 minute record is chock-full of coming of age dance-pop anthems. With the songs focused on his past and present emotional and physical relationships, parts of the album dive into Sivan’s more sensual side.

The opening track “Seventeen” is written about his first experience with an older man. The listener can get so fixated on the sound of the track that he misses the underlying theme of the insignificance of age and of love. The millennial world of online dating and exploration reduces emotional connection, leading to the insignificance of love and the triviality of age discussed in this song.

“My My My!”, the lead single released in January, is the quintessential dance track that those who follow Sivan were waiting for. The lighthearted nature of the song make it the perfect addition to any playlist. The song’s pace and beat represent the experience of diving head first into a feeling of ecstasy.

A breath of fresh air from the prior tracks, “The Good Side” takes the form of a lullaby, slower in pace and featuring a softened vocal approach.

Sivan takes fault for the decay of his relationship. He thanks his former partner for teaching him how to love, but he received more love than he ever gave back. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this song is the inclusion of a vocoder at the end, reminding the listener of “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap. The ending goes silent then reappears with the sound of a breath and a beat mimicking one of a heart, breathing new life into the song.

The title track “Bloom” spends the majority of its run time developing a metaphor for a relationship based off of a garden.  The concept of only existing for one individual and wanting to experience the entirety of life with him is a major theme in the album and  is directly connected to the concept explored in “Seventeen”. This song is all about firsts and experiencing everything for the first time, similar to the transition from spring to summer watching the flowers bloom and come back to life after a cold spell.

“Postcard” is the first track with a feature on the album. Written about a broken relationship, Troye returns to the person that broke him hoping that he can heal. The feature on the track, Gordi, is somewhat lost in the harmonies, providing a complementing voice more so than an alternate perspective.

The next track also has a feature. “Dance to This” showcases the mesmerizing voice of Ariana Grande. However, this song is weak in comparison to the rest of the album. Lyrically it is simplistic and the beat feels a little generic. The song is far from the excellence that the listener expects to get from the two major artists. That being said, the track is catchy and fits the formulaic style the radio tends to pick up.

Everyone has those 2 a.m. thoughts when the sugarcoated daydreams fade away. “Plum” is the equivalent of the sinking feeling at the base of one’s stomach when he realizes not everything is as it seems. On the song, Sivan realizes that even in the best of situations, there will always be an end. For the artist, the end is impending as he lies awake next to his partner analyzing their relationship. The song uses the taste and nature of fruit to form connections to feelings, and as out there as the concept sounds, Sivan’s writing on this piece seems to work as it is so far one of the fan favorites on the album.

The ultimate love song and profession of commitment, “What a Heavenly Way to Die” blends romantic lyrics about the present with the contemplation of the future, when the protagonists of the song are no longer young and free. The majority of the track feels like it is lacking in something, but towards the end of the piece it gets more sonically cohesive. It just takes some time to develop.

“Lucky Strike” may just be the best track on the album. Lyrically the song is built off of a cigarette metaphor, from which it derives its title. The lyrics are visual in nature, and the storytelling puts the listener in the moment with Troye and the synth pop musicality transforms the piece. Pulling from bubbly eighties synth, the production is unmatched by anything else on the album.

As closers usually are, “Animal” is just fine. It wraps up the album in an introspective way with a simplistic musical composition. It is an outcry of love and the acceptance of the fact that Sivan is anything but perfect. The closing minute and a half of the track is layered with vocoders and pitching creating an  ethereal musical atmosphere, a solid end to a generally strong album.