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Troye Sivan captures beauty with subtlety on ‘Bloom’

Courtesy of iTunes

In a short number of years, Troye Sivan has upgraded from teen-targeted YouTuber to mainstream pop heartthrob.

His blends of synth and indie pop with R&B influences has amassed numerous fans for him as well as legitimacy in the music industry signing with EMI Australia.

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Before jumping into the tracklist it should be known that Sivan does not have the most dynamic vocal presence in the world. He sings with a soft, moody cadence that leads many tracks off his last full length, “Blue Neighborhood” to come off as underwhelming.

On “Bloom,” Sivan is able to overcome this struggle through his smart choices on instrumentals.

The opening cut, “Seventeen,” is the ideal opener for the record as it gives the audience a window into the album as a whole. The quiet escalating synths guide Sivan’s voice through the verses up until the chorus drives in with a wave of additional synths. Despite clearly being synthpop, the track has a bit more of a modern feeling to it rather than calling back to the 80s when it reigned supreme.

The lead single, “My! My! My!” is a decent attempt at an 80s throwback. It reminds me a bit of something Halsey would have on her last album, only with a carefree youthful sentiment rather than a pretentious and artsy one. It is a little forgettable, but it is far from the worst thing I have heard in this style.

“The Good Side” opens with a brief, pretty electronic motif that can be heard on multiple points on the record. The song unexpectedly transitions into this mild acoustic ballad where Sivan recognizes the superior position he is currently in compared to his ex-lover. This style is pulled off amazingly, as it could have come out very gaudy and ugly, but Sivan’s production comes together beautifully.

He opens the song “Bloom” with a bouncy, playful tone before switching into a flowery instrumental with jangly electric guitars and poppy rhythms. The instrumental literally blooms on the chorus. The bridge is a little awkward with Sivan almost doing a bit of minimalist spoken word, but then the chorus pops back in to save the end.

Ariana Grande makes an unexpected appearance on “Dance to This.” The lowest common denominator lyrically and stylistically, Grande and Sivan come together with some decent chemistry making the track a surprising highlight for me. She does not upstage him despite the great distance talent wise. Sivan manages to hold his own on this cut.

“Lucky Strike” is probably the only track where it could have been taken out and nothing would have been lost musically. It is admirable however how Sivan refers to his partner as his “boy.” Despite the ever-growing list of musical artists coming out as gay or bisexual, there does not seem to be a significant presence of LGBT artists openly referring to their partner by their gender while singing in a casual tone.

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“Animal” of course closes the record off with an atmospheric love ballad. The guitar licks, synths and pianos twinkle distantly in the background almost swirling him as he sings in his soft-spoken voice. On the bridge, the instrumental shifts entirely almost to where it sounds funk influenced.

Troye Sivan has a little while to go before he can truly establish himself as a long-term pop star, but “Bloom” is certainly a step in the right direction. His style is a little one-dimensional and dated, and his voice shows a lack of versatility. If he continues to make smart instrumental and production choices as well as develop his own sound, then there is no reason why he couldn’t mature gracefully.

Listen to: “The Good Side,” “Postcard,” “Animal,” “Bloom,” “Seventeen,” “A Heavenly Way To Die” and “Dance To This”

Least favorite: “Lucky Strike”

Overall: 7/10

Troye Sivan is streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.

Collegian reporter Henry Netherland can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @NetherlandHenry.

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