If you have any doubts as to the star quality of Aussie Youtuber/actor/over-achiever Troye Sivan, go listen to his Wild EP from earlier this year. We were utterly charmed by the sophisticated, mature, and expertly-produced pop assault, crammed into an EP chunk that shone with his A+ material.
As always with a case like this – as in, a debut album coming pretty soon after – two things come to mind. Firstly, is this just a repetitive extension of a very successful EP? And even if it isn’t, can someone like Sivan sustain that level of quality for an entire full-length? As soon as we get to the first new track, Talk Me Down, the answer is pretty evident: Sivan’s trailer was just that. The full picture fleshes him out with panache, pop nuance, and the illustrative quality of an unlikely pop star.
We say unlikely not because of Sivan’s background or what he sings about. But ostensibly there are no traditional chart-assaulting pop bangers, and yet Blue Neighbourhood still emerges as one of the finest examples of the genre this year. Sivan ditches bombast for subtlety, subverting what we might expect of him (taming Betty Who for a moving two-hander? Sure) and doing it with the confidence of someone far beyond just a debut.
If there’s a gripe, it’s the question of longevity. Towards the end of the record there’s a sense of teen-angst ennui that creeps in, with songs like Lost Boy following his solid template but never rising beyond the doleful sadface-boy constraints Sivan seems to have set himself. How he progresses from here will be markedly interesting, but for now Sivan can take heart in the fact that his Blue Neighbourhood is a bright enough beacon for his talent.
Blue Neighbourhood by Troye Sivan can be ordered here.