Album Review: Blue Neighbourhood

Troye Sivan is not new to the music world, but he is breaking new ground. (Emi Music)

By ANEESAH AKBAR
Staff Writer

At just 20 years old, Australian Youtuber-turned-singer Troye Sivan has achieved more fame in his field than most people do in a lifetime.

Sivan released his first full-length studio album, Blue Neighbourhood on December 4, 2015. The album’s upbeat pop rhythms and captivating, smooth vocals add a uniquely effortless vibe to the music, transitioning seamlessly from one intriguing song to the next. According to Capitol Records, the album is purely autobiographical.  

Sivan’s tranquil style has remained fairly consistent since he released his first Extended Play (EP), Dare to Dream, back in 2007. Since then, Sivan has released two more EPs, Trxye (2014) and Wild (2015). His new album combines many of the popular numbers from these mini albums with several new, more sophisticated songs, resulting in a sense of heightened maturity and emotion.

In many ways, Blue Neighbourhood is an official introduction to Sivan’s music. After years of singing as a hobby, the release of his first full album seems to suggest a shift in his career from YouTubing to making music. The album’s title actually originated from the lyrics “Leave this blue neighbourhood,” taken from one of his lead singles, “WILD.”

The accomplished young adult’s album deals with sensitive topics like homosexuality. In August of 2013, Sivan revealed that he was gay through his YouTube channel. Ever since then, according to The Advocate, he has felt a responsibility to use his fame to challenge the stigma against homosexuality. He said, “I have a platform, and I should be using it to spread good if I can.” This idea is evident in his use of male pronouns to describe love interests, such as the extremely candid bonus track, “for him.”

Prior to the album release, Sivan issued a music video trilogy of three of the album’s singles: “WILD,” “FOOLS” and “TALK ME DOWN.” The trilogy tells the story of two young boys’ friendship, which evolves into love over time. Both teens deal with their sexuality in different ways as pressure from both family and society strain their relationship.

Sivan told The Advocate, “I think the most important thing to me at this point in my career is being able to be honest with my songwriting. Hopefully these videos will be the most viewed thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Five of the album’s songs feature collaborations with artists such as Betty Who, Allday, Tkay Maidza and Alex Hope. Hope and Sivan’s voices blend together beautifully in the soulful, aching number “BLUE.” Tkay Maidza’s soft rapping contrasts with Sivan’s pure vocals in “Don’t Keep Love Around (DKLA).”

The stirring music featured in the album is reminiscent of Lana del Rey’s emotional vocals, while Sivan’s wise-beyond-his-years lyrics are similar to those of fellow Australian singer Lorde. Despite these similarities, Sivan proves his originality with a scattering of faster-paced pop songs such as “SUBURBIA” and “LOST BOY” in the album.

My favorite songs from the album would have to be the lead single “WILD” and the more upbeat “EASE,” which features the New Zealand duo Broods. “WILD” is the perfect introduction to the album, complete with an exceptionally catchy tune, touching lyrics and eerie backing vocals. “EASE”‘s lively rhythm seems almost uncharacteristic of Sivan, but the song’s vocals are just as raw and lilting as ever. I also enjoyed listening to “FOOLS”‘s fluctuating beat and fluid vocals. I was not as fond of the number “TOO GOOD.” The song’s slow tempo and soft vocals did not appeal to me as much as some of the other numbers on the album.

“TALK ME DOWN, another of the album’s hit songs, is a wistful, yearning love ballad, while “YOUTH” is a more lighthearted love song about spending life having adventures with the person you love. “BITE” is more of an electro-pop number with sparse beats and repeating lyrics, while “THE QUIET” is stronger with a steady beat.

Many of the song lyrics in the album are very relatable to teenage audiences. For instance, the song “COOL” captures the emptiness that many teens feel as they change themselves to conform to society’s standards. The song states, “When I’ve got that cigarette smoke and Saint Laurent coat, but nothing is feeling right… I was just trying to be cool. I was just trying to be like you.”

Arguably the album’s most melancholy song, “HEAVEN” outlines the very personal internal worries of possibly having to give up your true self to fit the ideals associated with someone worthy of Heaven. Some of the lyrics in the chorus are, “Feeling like my heart’s mistaken, oh, so if I’m losing a piece of me, maybe I don’t want Heaven?”

Sivan’s music has become popular at UHS. Kate Brown (Jr.) said, “I think his music is really unique and interesting. He’s very laid back when he sings and it’s relaxing to listen to. My favorite song was ‘WILD’ as well.”

Troye Sivan definitely made a strong first impression in the music industry through Blue Neighbourhood.  His talent and capabilities as a newcomer are evident in the album’s sophisticated themes and infectious tunes, while the accessibility of his music plays a large part in his appeal to teenagers. The standard ten song album is $7.99 on iTunes while a Deluxe version with six additional songs is $11.99. Both versions have received a well-deserved 5 star rating.

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