Bloom – Troye Sivan (2018)

“Bloom” is the second full length album released by Australian singer songwriter Troye Sivan who has been dropping singles from this project since the beginning of 2018 and garnered much hype leading up to it’s launch.

I first heard Troye Sivan on his EP from 2014 “TRXYE” when I was instantly hooked on the track “Happy Little Pill”. There was something about the tone of the song both lyrically and musically mixed with this moody vocal that I enjoyed.

His first full length album “Blue Neighborhood” was released at the back end of 2015 with the track “Wild” becoming a firm favourite of mine and featured 4th in my Top 10 Songs of 2015 yet the album didn’t really do enough to reel me in and I thought it was a bit throwaway.

But this didn’t temper my interest in Sivan’s music and when “My My My” was released at the beginning of 2018 you could see at this point that musically and visually he had stepped things up many gears.

This album is a dazzling display of progression in both his music and personality as he embraces his sexuality in a prominent way that it leads his lyrical content in such a way that it makes this album sound cohesive.

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“Seventeen” is the opening track and this is a good example of Sivan explaining his experiences and how this has helped him grow. He explains in this track how that he was looking for love at seventeen and that acknowledges that whilst this was perhaps a little too young the feelings he had were real and it was him.

I think this touches on how the feelings young people have are often dismissed and just youthful fantasy when many of these feelings we have when we are at these ages are as real as anything you will feel going forward.

Sivan is not looking back on his experiences in a negative light and I believe he more so looking at these as life lessons and how in a hyper sexualised environment his age didn’t matter when meeting older people though it is unclear if he is also implying that he also didn’t matter and he was easily disposable.

I love the tone on this track and the production is big and anthemic making it a really fitting openers.

“My My My” continues this anthem like beginning to the album with a piece of grand power pop. The production is spot on on with the synth drums and keyboards creating a slice of perfection.

This is a really great track and probably the strongest on the set. It’s fun and playful whilst Sivan keeps his vocal in the verses moody whilst coming across more mature and displaying a more sexual nature to his delivery and lyrics.

The 80’s influenced hand claps and funkier use of the bass guitar make this a bit of a dancefloor banger which the rest of the album tends to not delve into again (certainly not in this more straightforward manner) but “My My My” is the centrepiece of “Bloom”.

“The Good Side” is a dramatic change of tact musically but it’s a welcome one because it really shows a different side (you could say the good one!) of Sivans music.

This song tells the story of how a relationship has broken down yet this is not a track bemoaning what has happened but actually apologising for being able to move on.

Sivan apologies for the need to break away from the relationship and is also apologising for the fact that he is now happy and this break up has allowed him to grow and live life the way he wishes to.

He acknowledges that the relationship gave him a foundation to which his future relationships will be bases on:  “You taught me the ropes, and you taught me to love”

Sivan is eager to point out that he is not the victim in this tale and it is a refreshing look at a love story (or the end of one) that isn’t about heartbreak and the only sadness is the sadness he feels for the other person who has been left.

The title track “Bloom” is the 4th track and is another slice of delightful pop music. This brings together the best in power pop music with the production taking on the retro sound (some similar sounds to “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals) as it displays a real breezy atmosphere.

The more I listened to this track the more I enjoyed it and it has been on repeat since I started listening to the album.

Lyrically there are a few interpretations you could have so I will allow you to make your own judgement but there is clearly an overtly sexual theme to the words.

Using a word like ‘bloom’ and all the sexual connotations you have with ‘flowers’ and ‘opening up’ leaves little ambiguity to what Sivan is referring to but it is all dressed up in an almost bubblegum pop style that unless you break the lyrics down you might not realise what you are singing along to.

Things are slowed down on track 5 with “Postcard” which features Gordi who is an Australian singer songwriter. She provides some interesting sounding vocals on a track that sounds like a discarded Ed Sheeran track and it’s brash lyrics in the verses do not relate to what we have heard on previous tracks as they sound just a bit out of place.

This track doesn’t really work for me and whilst I think it’s a good example of how far Sivan has come as a vocalist the song doesn’t catch me like the others.

“Dance To This” is the track that may divide listeners as it was much hyped due to the feature of American pop sensation Ariana Grande. I am yet to be impressed by Grande as I find it impossible to understand anything she is saying. I know there is a voice in there as you can hear a nice tone to her vocal but is she singing with cotton wool in her mouth all the time? It’s amazing to me that no one points this out her but even more amazing that she is so popular.

But that aside I kind of like this track and I like it more so when listening to this album in one sitting as it fits the flow. There is a point at 02.33 that the song loses it’s way badly and from a production point of view it sounds so messy.

Before I heard the album I went through the track list and saw the title “Plum” which I found an odd name for a song and couldn’t believe that we were going to talk about the actual fruit but low and behold this is what we are discussing here.

Sivan is using a “Plum” as a metaphor for sweet things turning sour but I can’t help but think this is a bit of ridiculous track lyrically which is a shame as musically I think it’s one of the best. The instrumentation and melodic structure is really strong as it sounds retro but modern in it’s sound.

“What A Heavenly Way To Die” is not a cover of The Smiths “There is a light that never goes out” but the title is surely influenced by it.

The song is sweetly sweet in it’s theme as Sivan is talking about how being with his lover means that if he was to die now he would be happy as this is as good as it gets.

Vocally on the chorus his diction becomes a little difficult to understand which is an issue he has had previously and unnecessary. Still the song works and he puts across his feeling superbly.

As the track progresses I think it gets better and the production is again really enjoyable with those 80’s style programmed drums and background guitar riffs producing a real strong song.

The penultimate track “Lucky Strike” is the nearest sounding song to “My My My” so naturally I am going to like it. This synth pop track tells the story of kissing someone who tasted a bit like Lucky Strikes (the cigarette). A simple story but the track is more about the atmosphere it creates which is dancing in a club and being very flirtatious.

The instrumentation really gives it that club feel and transports you to that setting in what is another superbly constructed pop song.

The 10th and final track on “Bloom” is “Animals”. 

At 04.25 it is one of the longer tracks on the album and 80’s stadium anthemic mood is set once again. The song is musically quite simple and doesn’t burst into life like I thought it might but on repeat listen the track works better in the context of the entire album as it serves as a more epic display of his love for someone which is something he has touched on throughout the entire project.

This final track keeps in with the theme of sex, passion and growth that Sivan has put forward on his second album in a really impressive way.

There is enough on “Bloom” to keep every pop music fan happy as there are personal tracks, fun tracks, playful songs and ones you can sing along to.

It doesn’t feel bloated and whilst there are perhaps a couple of misteps the album serves as probably the best pop album I have heard in 2018 and hits all the right notes to display a well crafted, modern, and potent record.

 

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