Troye Sivan’s 2015 debut album Blue Neighborhood didn’t quite take him to the top of the charts, but it did establish him as a cool and credible popstar – no mean feat considering the LA-based Australian first made his name on YouTube.
Combined with the honest and relatable way he spoke in interviews about coming out and embracing his sexuality, it also saw him hailed by fans as a gay icon, a title he’s recently balked at. “I’m one voice of so many that are missing, and so I’m just trying to tell my story,” the 22-year-old explained humbly.
This second album sees Sivan tell his story even more candidly than before. Opening track Seventeen explores the problematic dynamics of meeting older guys on dating apps. “Boy becomes a man now, can’t tell a man to slow down,” he sings matter-of-factly. “He’ll just do whatever, do whatever he wants.”
The Good Side is an uncommonly decent and tender break-up song, while Postcard mournfully explores the beginning of a relationship’s end. And if the title track really is about bottoming, as Sivan has hinted it could be, its imagery is appealingly OTT. “Take a trip into my garden, I’ve got so much to show ya,” he sings suggestively. “The fountains and the waters are begging just to know ya.”
Musically, Bloom both replicates and builds on the dreamy electro-pop sound that made Blue Neighbourhood such sonic ear candy. The Good Side adds some lovely folky guitars to the mix; Plum references Paul Simon’s iconic Graceland sound, and final track Animal is Sivan’s most ambitious ballad yet.
Elsewhere, the album’s Ariana Grande collaboration Dance to This has a feather-light touch Sivan hasn’t tried before; his understated vocals blend elegantly with Grande’s typically angelic tones. He’s still most comfortable at a balmy mid-tempo, but super-catchy single My My My! is just a dance mix away from poppers o’clock territory.
Bloom isn’t quite perfect – What a Heavenly Way to Die features disappointingly clichéd lyrics, especially from a songwriter capable of being succinct and imaginative at the same time.
But this is hardly enough to spoil an excellent second effort. Sivan may not feel comfortable calling himself a gay icon, but on this evidence he’s definitely a compelling and perceptive young gay voice.
Gay Times gives Troye Sivan’s new album Bloom – ★★★★☆