The YouTube Generation may have finally found its voice, and thank goodness it’s not PewDiePie. Enter Troye Sivan – the twenty-year-old singer/songwriter/actor – who has been in the hearts and minds of millions of YouTube subscribers ever since he came out as gay in an incredibly heartfelt video in 2013.
Fully disclosed and unfettered from public speculation, Sivan released two critically acclaimed and chart topping EPs, Wild andTRXYE. Thanks in large part to the success of the two EPs as well as social bumps from the likes of Taylor Swift (“GO @troyesivan WILD IS STUNNING AND AWESOME…”), Adele (On Sivan covering “Hello” – “I burst into tears”), and Sam Smith (Sivan’s cool timbre “Does things to [his] body.”), Sivan dropped his first full-length release, Blue Neighbourhood, on December 4th, through EMI Music Australia and Capitol.
Blue Neighbourhood opens with an eponymous carryover from Sivan’s second EP, WILD. A heavy-hitting single masquerading as a leadoff track, “WILD” sounds reminiscent of a Lorde B-side, but with a more vivacious outlook – “Kissing up on fences and up on walls / On the way home / I guess its all working now…” Sivan’s unwrinkled vocals are a product of the upcoming generation of pop stars – minimally touched vocals, surrounded by airtight production allowing for more focus on overall tone versus individual tracks.
“WILD” also kicks off Sivan’s three part music video narrative of the relationship between two young boys as they experience tragedy, discovery, lust, loss, and melancholy throughout their lives. Second track on the album (and video number two), “FOOLS,” is yet another WILD EP holdover, though arguably the strongest of the three older tracks. “FOOLS,” expresses a traumatic realization of falling hard in a relationship, as well as a parallel to Sivan’s newfound fame “I need time to replace what I gave away / My hopes they are high / I must keep them small.”
Blue Neighbourhood is a different sort of debut than that of Sivan’s other pop counterparts. His coming out video in 2013 allowed for his debut to not be overanalyzed with focus on subject matter and who or what certain songs may be addressing. Instead, it allows for Sivan to comment directly and honestly on subjects that concern him the most, such as “HEAVEN,” featuring Betty Who. The track is one of the more ballad-leaning songs on Blue Neighbourhood, which allows it to operate as the true core of the record. It connects to the fundamental struggles of Sivan’s generation, fear of not attaining certain levels of acclaim, success, fulfillment, happiness, etc. In short, it asserts that everyone has enters their own “Blue Neighbourhood” at one point or another. What is a “Blue Neighbourhood” exactly? Sivan never really quite explains, but the YouTube generation anthem assuages any anxiety that his peers may succumb to.
In short, Blue Neighbourhood, is certainly a successful debut (it hopped to No. 1 on iTunes following the launch of its pre-order), but it still runs into pitfalls of exhibiting the extent of his vulnerability in sex on “BITE” and the struggle for normalcy while juggling fame on the predictably named “COOL,” but overall, Sivan shows that he holds more promise than other pop artists with a command of his narrative and voice. While Blue Neighbourhood is solid, and being propelled by millions of young Sivanians (perhaps a bit of a stretch), there is still room for Sivan to expand upon his narratives and mature as an artist and songwriter.