After combatting bottom shame with the release of the lead bop single “Bloom,” Troye Sivan has shared his second album Bloom with the world. The album comes at a time when Sivan’s profile is higher than ever. Later this fall, Sivan will star in the conversion therapy-themed film Boy Erased. While Sivan has plenty of love from queer people of all ages, Bloom aims to help the artist cross over to a larger audience.
Here’s what INTO has to say about the singer’s latest effort.
Troye’s opening track works both as a solid album opener that announces Sivan’s intent on the album, while also being a track about the mythology of queerness. Sivan sings with equal parts nostalgia and palpability about the thrill of discovering queerness — physically and emotionally — at 17. Sivan’s voice soothes but the track also feels like a salve for teen queer longing. The whole Call Me By Your Name-esque aesthetic works and will bring a lot of listeners back to the time they wished an older man showed them what it meant to be gay.
“My My My!”
Sivan has toured and collaborated with Betty Who and it’s hard to listen to “My My My!” without comparing it to some of the electro mood pop queen’s best work. Without getting too high tempo, Sivan sounds as sensual, soft and sweet as Who at her best. This cut sounds like it would easily be at home on Take Me When You Go — which means it’s a quality cut that is equal parts toe-tapping bop and melancholy ecstasy love sonnet.
“The Good Side”
We haven’t all been the best partners to our loved ones, and Sivan’s own shortcomings are the theme of this singy-songy mid-tempo number, which is Imogen Heap meets Telepopmusik via the Renaissance Faire. I know that sounds trippy, but the number is sweet and will eventually play over a scene of someone driving a car with tears in their eyes in a Nancy Meyers movie.
There’s no denying that “Bloom” is THAT bop. Though Sivan has been a recording artist for some time, “Bloom” will be the moment that catapulted Sivan to another level and with good reason. Sivan’s voice has a natural sensual velvety quality that is equal parts soothing and enticing. Nowhere is his coquettish tenor put to better use than here.
This will no doubt find heavy rotation on people’s cry-inducing playlists (we all have them!), but the track sounds like a retread of familiar confessional territory we’ve heard before. Gordi doesn’t add much to the track, which unfortunately feels like too much of a slog sandwiched between the album’s two highlights.
“Dance to This”
“Dance to This” does the best job so far on the album of using Sivan’s voice as an instrumental element. Funny, given that his track partner is Ariana Grande, whose latest album Sweetener did the same thing for her to great effect. Grande and Sivan’s voices complement each other very well. While Grande is a belter, she reaches level of velvetiness at lower decibels that meshes well with Sivan’s own airy voice. Hearing them both sing together is like snuggling up in a well-blanketed bed, an appropriate setting given that the sexy-time quality of this song is off the charts.
This track is probably the corniest on the album. The song’s central metaphor — “Even the sweetest plum/ Has only got so long” — feels amateur compared to the complex emotional territory the rest of the album plumbs. (See what I did there?) Either way, the track doesn’t feel as authentically emotional as what comes before.
“What a Heavenly Way to Die”
“WAHWTD” is a much smarter track than I thought it would be. This late in an album, I expected the song to become a ballad, but it picks up very early and Sivan’s voice is at its most soothing timbre here. The song isn’t afraid to surprise: it starts slow, builds and eventually reaches an apex at its chorus.
This song opens with some of the album’s most evocative imagery — ”I want to skip stones on your skin, boy/ and drown me in your water” — and is no doubt the album’s sexiest. Some people might take umbrage at the song’s central cigarette metaphor, but it’s less clunky than the earlier “Plum” metaphor and, on an album of sexual frankness, earns the distinction of being the LP’s most sensual cut.
While some songs on the album, like “What a Heavenly Way to Die,” surprise the listener with the roads that it can meander, “Animal” confuses and doesn’t seem to adhere to any discernible structure. It also experiments musically and at times sounds like it could be on the It Follows soundtrack, and I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. If “Seventeen” works as an album opener, “Animal” disappoints as a closer, but is still higher quality than most other music out there today.
Sivan has a lot of eyes and expectations on him as this album will be the one that should catapult him to a higher level of recognition and respect. He meets the challenge with aplomb (see what I did there?). Bloom surprises with its levels of complexity, sincerity, and maturity. It’s both heartbreaking and sexual, rapturous and cute. It’s an inherently queer album that will both put you in your feels and transport you to new emotions. Sivan’s voice is unobtrusive; it feels made to guide you to and through emotional destinations, rather than be a final destination itself. If there’s a complaint to be had, it’s that the songs often sound a little too similar. Sivan has proved he can make a high-quality album, but it would probably behoove him to vary his sound a bit in the future.