Album Review: Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood

It’s happened, folks. Troye Sivan has officially cemented himself as a full-blown pop sensation. His debut, dubbed Blue Neighbourhood, is an atmospheric, ethereal pop album worth the hype that it’s been receiving. All of the songs from his Wild EP sit right at the top of the track list, bringing us back to where we first got a taste of what it really means to “leave this blue neighbourhood”. But that brings the question of whether this album takes place in the aforementioned location, or it’s just a metaphor in one of the songs that just so happens to be a beautiful album title.

I’m in firm belief that it’s the former. There’s something so image-filled and atmospheric about this record and it really dives deep into the topics at hand. From the opening track “WILD” to the closing remix of previous single “Happy Little Pill”, there’s such an evoking presence to this album. I can’t get enough of the single-worthy bangers, and when I say bangers, there’s still a soft and fluid motion to the progressions.

745

Here’s my track by track rundown:

WILD
This is first song on the album and not-so-coincidentally the first on the WILD EP. It’s an excellent choice to open the both of them. The chord progression in the verses is flawless, with Troye’s soft and silky vocals sliding against the synth like water. The chorus is infectious, with some of the most on point lyricism I’ve seen. It’s relatable, while still keeping a piece of sentiment toward something that speaks to the artist’s life.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “Cause when you look like that/I’ve never ever wanted to be so bad”

BITE
This was one of least favorite songs on the WILD EP, but not for anything wrong with it. The song is solid, but just didn’t match up to the rest of them. I feel the same in context with the full album. As with the previous track, the lyricism is on point and the production is enveloping in a way that shouldn’t be legal. The chorus is so simple, but it says all that it needs to. Not my favorite on the album, but nothing bad at all.

Rating: 9/10
Favorite Lyric: “Kiss me on the mouth and set me free”

FOOLS
Another smash. Like “WILD”, “FOOLS” is blissful and beautiful. Troye Sivan’s music has this air to it that’s just unexplainable. But this one takes the cake. Smooth and sexy, this song is one of those late night jams. The slow chord progression and pitter-patter of the percussion is so timely done that I can’t even imagine how he put that together; how he perfectly put together the perfect euphoria in one song.

A big highlight of the album, without a doubt.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “I see house on a hill and children’s names”

EASE (feat. Broods)
The first feature out of a few and it’s a lovely jam. It’s got this percussion that’s feels as if you’re in a car and cruising down a dimly lit street. I kind of reminds me of a residential area with street lights that aren’t working too well. This isn’t a song that I feel should be a single or I would consider a huge highlight, but it’s done really well.

Rating: 9/10
Favorite Lyric: “Your touch, my comfort, and my lullaby/Holdin’ on tight and sleepin’ at night”

THE QUIET
This was my favorite from the WILD EP, and I still feel that way when it comes to how it plays within this track list. It does what it did on the aforementioned extended play. Its buildup during the pre-choruses, the chorus that just seems to pound through headphones. The lyricism is introverted and mono-conversational, but the way it’s executed makes it reach listeners with ease.

One of my favorites.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “I’d rather have broken bones than feel myself turn to stone”

DKLA (feat. Tkay Maidza)
DKLA might stand for Don’t Keep Love Around, but whatever the case, I’m in love with it and I want to keep it around. The production is very FKA twigs, using the gritty, yet sensual synths to accompany Troye’s voice, which is so skillfully weaved through each pounding drum. The guest rapper feels very out of place on this track for me, taking away from the atmospheric feel that had been pushed through previously throughout, but I can deal with it. I just think that maybe it would’ve been better solo.

Rating: 8/10
Favorite Lyric: “Play it back and press rewind/To when you traced your fingers, drew my spine”

TALK ME DOWN
I remember getting emotional hearing this song for the first time as Troye debuted it on Beats 1 Radio through Apple Music. I’m not sure if he’s talking him down from the high he’s on with the relationship or from something much darker, but either way, this is a beautifully done track. Every inch of it feels effortless and classic. The production is cinematic, magnetic and has such a slow, yet persistent chord progression.

A must listen for the album.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “I want sleep next to you, but that’s all I want to do right now”

COOL
If this isn’t a single, I will lose my mind. On every album, there are always those gems that deserve the full treatment (radio, music video, television performances) and sometimes, never get it. The smooth chord progression, the delicate production, THAT CHORUS. There isn’t a portion of this song that I don’t like. It feels like a song that I could groove to at any time of day, but it is best at the dead of night, where there are no other sounds besides this.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “I’m a spark and you’re a boom”

HEAVEN (feat. Betty Who)
Betty Who? Oh, that’s right. The woman that had a killer debut album back in early 2015. When I saw her listed as a feature, I was both internally and externally losing my marbles. Her elegant 1980’s pop feel is so obviously easily blended with the soft, yet punching synths of Troye’s atmospheric alternative pop. And I was not disappointed. An almost anthemic track that doesn’t have a clear meaning. I have a theory that it’s about coming out and being honest about who you are, in regards to sexuality, but that’s just a theory. This is a song that could’ve easily been on Betty’s “Take Me As You Go”, as her unique airy vocals just seem to be so perfect for this track.

A true highlight.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “The truth runs wild, like children on concrete”

YOUTH
When I first heard this song, I loved it, but now seeing in context with the rest of the album, I like it a little less. This is one of those songs that fits the title of “promotional single”. It’s good for adding hype, but once that album comes out, it just feels like a filler. I can’t see this making a huge impact or doing something major for Troye’s career, not like “WILD” or “Happy Little Pill”, both which have received wonderful praise for their execution and longevity on the charts. “Youth” is good, but it doesn’t have as much substance as some of the other tracks.

Rating: 8/10
Favorite Lyric: “And when the lights start flashing like a photobooth/And the stars exploding, we’ll be fireproof”

LOST BOY
This song almost has a heartbeat, a pulse. It eases into a chorus that just explodes, but instead of throwing debris, it’s just a cloud of smoke. There’s a heaviness, but it doesn’t have chunks or difficult portions within. I absolutely love the way that the subtle harmonies in the chorus are done. The small tricks here aren’t thrown in your face. They’re just existing, with a soft production pushing them along.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “Cause we’re both too young to give into forever”

for him. (feat. Allday) – This track is unlike the other tracks. For one, the track name isn’t capitalized throughout like the rest. But aside from the grammar, the sonic quality in this song is just so raw. It’s not processed or “synthed” like the other tracks. This is a standout and I love it. The vocals are just so fluid, so open. This is the first love song where I don’t feel like he’s being somber or depressed. The guest rapper is a nice addition. There are some really nice lines in this song. The writing is so on point.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “You don’t have to say I love you to say I love you”

SUBURBIA
There’s such a singalong quality to this song. The chord progression is so deliciously fluid that it feels so soft to the tongue when you sing it. I could see myself at his show, singing along to this near the end of the show. There’s a dark vibe to this song, but it’s strangely coupled with these airy vocals that bring us as listeners into the light.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “Swallow nostalgia/Chase it with light”

TOO GOOD
Troye Sivan does ballads so well. His voice elegantly slides through piano and soft production unlike anything I’ve heard recently. There’s something so sensual and sweet about this song that is simply too good to be ignored – no pun intended.
My favorite on the album.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “Fingers walk your thigh/Breathe my love, get high”

BLUE (feat. Alex Hope)
I’m in love with this song. It’s simple and beautifully done. This is the singalong song at the concert. The moment when it’s just Troye and the audience, clapping along to this stunning song. The guest vocals add another layer of silky smooth bliss to an already flawless track. The production is so pulled back, and the vocals seem untouched. It’s just raw and lovely.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “I fell in love with a heart that beats so slow”

WILD (XXYYXX Remix)
Okay, this is first moment in the album where I’ve had an issue and we’re almost finished with it. I understand that it’s a bonus track and that’s all fine and dandy, but it still doesn’t fit with the vibe of the album. The whole vibe has been laid back and soft. Even the bangers have been soft. This is just pounding in the verses and a vocally torn apart chorus in my opinion. That being said, I love a good remix.

If this were alone or on a remix EP, I would praise it for it’s original production and its excellent use of the lyrics to instill a vibe within the track. But this is the last track on the iTunes deluxe edition of the album. This is the last bit of reflection we get before it’s all over. Which is why I kind of just wish this wasn’t included at all. Just put it on a remix EP or it should’ve just been released as a standalone single when the WILD EP came out.

Rating: 6/10

SWIMMING POOLS
The first of the Target bonus tracks, and it’s a banger. Smooth and thought out, with a big chorus. Beautiful production, as well. There’s such a midnight feeling to this song that’s inescapable. The vocal reverb on the chorus is so subtle, yet obvious enough to evoke a feeling. Nothing feels in excess here. It’s a very big song, but still keeps its subtlety and elegance.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “Sometimes you drain all the shit out that used to feel right”

HAPPY LITTLE PILL (Live Version) – I love that the album ends with this song. There’s such a feeling to this song that even the original version would’ve excelled at, but this is the version that just completes everything in a way that I can’t even explain. It’s soft and innocent, yet brutally honest. Troye sounds so beautiful here, as well. He’s a full blown artist and while he may not have a huge voice, he can present feeling in a manner that many big artists have a hard time doing.

Rating: 10/10
Favorite Lyric: “Cover my eyes, bring color to my skies”

There are very few artists that can single handedly prove their strengths while being so honest and open. This year, there have been so many new artists emerging and some of them fell short of their hype. Troye Sivan isn’t one of them.

This album is the color it suggests: blue. It travels through so many hues, but it has one constant and that is the overall tone. It’s an airy, yet heavy mixture of both sadness and cool joy. The high moments still remain grounded, while the low moments still coast on a level that’s not melodramatic. The production is flawless throughout and there’s something about Troye’s writing style that fits him like a glove. I don’t think he could’ve done any better with this album and I’m thrilled to be able to have heard it.

Must-Listen Tracks:

WILD

FOOLS

COOL

SWIMMING POOLS

HEAVEN (feat. Betty Who)

Maybe Stay Away From:

DKLA (feat. Tkay Maidza)

YOUTH

WILD (XXYYXX Remix)

Buy ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ on iTunes + You Can Stream ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ on Spotify

524

Credits
Photo Courtesy of neontheory.com