Troye Sivan’s bid for pop stardom may leave you rolling your eyes. The very idea of a vlogger making claims to artistry should rightly come with massive air-quotes around the word. However this morning you’ll find yourself eating an entire bowser of humble pie. Bloom is a great pop record.
While the 23 year old Australian’s debut Blue Neighbourhood, all syrupy synths and teen angst, failed to interest many beyond the tumblrsphere, Bloom is far more accomplished. Evoking a brittle 80s synthpop aesthetic and employing the best in Swedish popcraft, Sivan has delivered a short 35 minutes of sharp & contemporary MOR.
Lead single ‘My, My, My!’ is a perfect balance between breathy, intimate verses and an exultant chorus. It mirrors the nerves and release of a one night stand; a reoccurring image on Bloom. It’s an appropriate title for an album detailing the flourishing of adolescence.
‘Bloom’ may be the best single, one of the best of the year in fact. And while it is perhaps overstating this album’s importance to proclaim this the definitive album on queer love (it ain’t) there’s something exhilarating about a male pop star playing the ingénue. Plus, that snare (fresh from ‘She Drives Me Crazy’) absolutely slaps.
Despite being the best instrumental, ‘Dance To This’ feels held back both by Sivan’s muted chorus and an underutilised Ariana Grande. Of course it is entirely possible this is intentional, reflecting the quiet celebration of domestic bliss which informs the song.
‘Plum’ mirrors Charlie Puth’s ‘BOY’ gone sour, with sharp instrumental breaks and tight sliding beat. The album essentially starts in 1992 and ends in 1986 – a slow slide from proto-R&B to new wave extraction. ‘Lucky Strike’ has an easy electropop thrum to it, while ‘Animal’ is an adventurous, meandering moment to end on.
The mainstream has been hesitant to accept Sivan, which is a surprise moreso because of his elfin features than the strength of his music. Perhaps that is the issue – Sivan got here based on good looks and good luck rather than the wood-shedding slog faced by many would-be radio acts. Cynics however, need to stop resting on their laurels and recognise talent when they see it. This is talent.