The Tempo: Blue Neighbourhood (Deluxe)

The+single+%22Youth%22+has+been+taking+the+world+by+storm.+The+music+video+perfectly+illustrates+the+aesthetic++and+mood+of+the+song.

Screenshot from the official "Youth" music video by Troye Sivan

The single "Youth" has been taking the world by storm. The music video perfectly illustrates the aesthetic and mood of the song.

Troye Sivan, known to many of today’s youth as a Youtube star (with currently 3.9 million subscribers), released his first full studio album on December 4th, 2015. He released a six-song precursor to the album, an Extended Play (EP), titled Wild on September 4th of that year. Sivan’s album, Blue Neighbourhood, consists of ten tracks, but he also released a deluxe version with altered artwork, and a total of 16 tracks. I will be discussing the deluxe album, because I feel it is a better display of his intentions with the album, and sadly some of my favorite songs are not on the ten-track version.

The album cover features artwork by Hsiao-Ron Cheng. Its a portrait of Sivan with a typical suburbian street in the background, with a blue sunset fading in the back. The non-deluxe version is the same with a lighter color scheme.
The album cover features artwork by Hsiao-Ron Cheng. Its a portrait of Sivan with a typical suburbian street in the background, with a blue sunset fading in the back. The non-deluxe version is the same with a lighter color scheme.

Sivan is a 20 year old, openly gay artist in the music industry. He plainly writes about love in the only way he knows how – about boys. In an interview he explains that he isn’t looking to make any statements, he is just trying to live openly and honestly:

“I think that there is a lot of power in a gay guy having a really (hopefully) successful music career while just being completely openly gay and honest and happy. It’s something that we’re starting to see more of in people like Sam Smith or Olly Alexander from Years and Years, but it’s something that I think we can still see a lot more of.”

 

When asked if Blue Neighborhood is a vehicle, he plainly responds:

“I hope so, yeah. I wrote just really openly, so I used boy pronouns and ‘he’ instead of ‘she’ obviously, and just kind of wrote exactly about what was going on in my life.”

 

Although choices like this, as well as featuring men as romantic partners in his honest music videos, seems very small and generally the obvious course of action because of his sexuality, his open presence for youth has been very revolutionary. The idea of just having someone represent LGBTQ youth in an honest manor, has helped many of his fans face their own sexuality and gender.

 

The album opens with the six songs from Wild, the title track being “Wild”. The production has a groovy and mellow vibe, using many synthesizers, and an irresistible beat with the percussion. It opens the album with the idea of youthfulness, and a free-spirited energy. Sivan even uses young kids to repeat the title, shouting “Hey!” as well in the background. The production of this album deserves recognition already in the first song, the complication and small components bring together a brilliant song that I can’t stop listening to. Sivan’s vocals are very smooth and clear, and are perfect for this genre.

 

“Bite” opens with silence, then Sivan’s voice in a chilling and enticing opening:

 

Kiss me on the mouth and set me free,

sing me like a choir.

I can be the subject of your dreams,

your sickening desire.

Don’t you want to see a man up close?

A phoenix in the fire –

So kiss me on the mouth and set me free,

but please don’t bite.

 

He uses a vocoder to surround the melody with electronic harmonies that will give anyone the goose bumps. This song has a hypnotic feeling due to its production elements, but also a piano at the base. “Bite” serves as one of my favorite songs, because of the melodic line, mood, and the lyrics. Sivan recounts in various interviews and his own YouTube video that the song is about going to a gay club for the first time.

 

“Fools” was a beautiful collaboration of Sivan’s songwriting and beautifully pained vocals, and the later added production value. The song originally was going to be a piano ballad, because of the deep and personal lyrics, but the production team added the beats, and created something stellar. This song and its creation in particular is a brilliant example of the genre that Sivan coined the album: melancholy pop.

 

Throughout the album, Sivan, guest artists, and the production team do a spectacular job of illustrating mood through lyrics and production. Specifically the songs “Ease” featuring Broods, “Youth”, and “Blue” which features Alex Hope (who assisted Sivan in writing or producing almost every track on the album).

 

Sivan proves to be an amazingly personal lyricist through this album. He writes heartbreakingly personal lyrics such as in “Lost Boy”, where the repeated line in the bridge is:

“So what are you waiting for, ‘cause someone could love you more.”

 

The song “Heaven” featuring fellow Aussie, Betty Who, is a personal song about accepting one’s sexuality. Sivan explains it as the truth that tries to emerge, but the extreme anxiety involved. The realization in the chorus is powerful; I don’t know any way to relay it besides just including the lyrics.

“Without losing a piece of me

how do I get to heaven?

Without changing a part of me

how do I get to heaven?

All my time is wasted

feeling like my heart’s mistaken.

So if I’m losing a piece of me,

maybe I don’t want heaven.”

 

After this point in the album, there’s an upbeat turn to the song, and current single, “Youth”, which celebrates exactly that. The song celebrates love, as well as free spiritedness, and it is most likely intentionally put after a song that emphasizes self-acceptance.

 

The rest of the album has an ebb and flow of upbeat songs and ballads. Every single song has a different flair and personal mood. All the songs except one are written in all caps, and that song is titled “for him.” The song has a certain bounce to it that makes you feel the love that is being written about. It was originally written for his significant other and Sivan had no intentions of putting it on the album, but because of the positive reaction, it was eventually placed into the album. I’m not necessarily a fan of the rap section by Allday, but it doesn’t really effect my feelings toward the song as a whole and it’s mood.

 

There is only one song I’m not necessarily a fan of which is titled “Cool”. Compared to the rest of the album, it just isn’t as aurally and lyrically pleasing. Nevertheless, I must give kudos to the production, which fits the mood of the song once more.

 

Blue Neighbourhood is gaining rightful praise internationally for every aspect: songwriting, lyrics, and production. All of which are rightfully due. Sivan’s vocals hold a clarity and softness that provide as a clean canvas for the music. There are aspects of R&B, pop, and almost cinematic pieces from the piano and strings. Sivan is also being praised for his live performances, which is refreshing to hear. When an album is so complex and raw, the expectations for live performances are high, but Sivan doesn’t disappoint. He is coming to Atlanta next week, March 10th, to the Variety Playhouse for a sold out show.

 

This album sculpts the genre of melancholy pop, but doesn’t always fit into any particular mold with its unique production. I personally can’t wait for Sivan’s future endeavors as a inspiration and guide to LGBTQ youth, as well as a creative artist.

Listen to Blue Neighbourhood (Deluxe) here: spotify

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