The Lowdown: Troye Sivan built an Internet following on the strength of a charming video blog, but don’t let the YouTube creds put you off. His debut album, 2015’s Blue Neighborhood, would have been buzzworthy even if Sivan hadn’t brought his own buzz. With dreamy synthscapes, personal writing, and help from some talented writer-producers, Blue Neighborhood announced the arrival of an artist to watch. Bloom is his second album, and compared to its predecessor, it is both lighter in tone and tighter in composition.
The Good: The lyrics revel in the feeling when you’re not sure if you’re in love or just horny as hell – or maybe both, who knows? When you’re, “Seventeen”, like Sivan is on the opening song, it all gets tangled up. But the lust reaches its delicious apex on title track “Bloom”, full of gardens with fountains and water just begging to meet you. The lyrics are vivid, but more suggestive than obvious. It’s a subversive pop song that could get played on the radio and have suburban Baby Boomers bopping to a tune they think is about a flower. “The Good Side” finds Sivan ending a romance and then apologizing for getting the better end of the relationship. And on “Dance To This”, Sivan oozes a breathy charm.
The Bad: Different musicians lead with different skills, and it’s no insult to say that Troye Sivan is more about personality than vocals. Pop songwriting is a collaborative experience, and the most underrated skill is the ability to go into a room with people you may barely know and come out with something that sounds personal. On two albums now, he’s demonstrated that skill. But there are times when his vocals are exposed. On “Dance to This”, a duet with Ariana Grande, he holds his own during the quieter passages, but when it comes time to jointly express the heights of passion, he gets blown off the track.
The Verdict: Bloom is a fun record, dreamy and vulnerable and urgently horny. Sivan has a fresh perspective, and his force of personality enlivens tracks that otherwise might sound conventional. His best songs perform a kind of magic, with sentiments that feel universal to all of us and as personal as a fingerprint.
Essential Tracks: “Bloom”, “The Good Side”, and “Dance to This”