I vividly remember the day Troye Sivan came out as gay to his thousands of YouTube subscribers in a 2013 vlog. I was an avid follower of Sivan's videos, and watching him transform from a friendly face on my middle school desktop screen to an acclaimed pop star has been incredible.
His Aug. 31 release, Bloom, is representative of this growth from a moderately well-known teenager writing songs about Young Adult novels to an artist embarking on a headlining tour across America and Canada. On "Seventeen," he sings about finding love before even becoming an adult; on "Dance To This," he explores themes of sexuality on the dance floor in collaboration with Ariana Grande.
Bloom is an incredibly varied body of work with upbeat, heavily-produced bops and slow, crooning ballads. The album's lead single and second track, "My My My!" pulls you in with an infectious drum beat that grows into a bold, loud chorus fit for a club or bustling house party.
But before you can really get to dancing, the third track "The Good Side" steps in with a melancholy tone. The song's remorseful lyrics reflect Sivan's experience with the ending of a relationship in which he was able to turn his pain into music and therefore more stardom: "The people danced to the sound of your heart/ The world sang along to it falling apart."
This album is unapologetically gay, much like Sivan himself. He sings about queer love in a casual way, as queer artists rightfully should. The songs detail his love stories and casual sexual encounters in a poetic, universally resonant manner typical of pop music, but hearing it all from a gay perspective is breath of fresh air.
On Bloom, Sivan doesn't feed listeners tired narratives of struggling to accept one's queer self or oversimplified storylines of gay pride. Instead, he opts to get deeply personal, sharing the dark side of his romantic life and the lightheartedness of exploring the dating world as an early 20-something.
Of the album's slower songs, "Postcard" is undoubtedly the best. Guided by a simplistic piano melody, Sivan details the sad parts of a loving relationship. On first listen, it feels like another depressing breakup track, but the more I paid attention to the lyrics the more I realized it's about a love that is real and good yet still imperfect. Sivan's vocals on this track are perfectly underscored by fellow Australian singer/songwriter Gordi's lower register and touching bridge.
Bloom is a standout collection of pop music because Sivan isn't afraid to be himself. He creates powerful pop anthems without getting too cookie-cutter. The album is wonderfully composed in that each fast-paced track is paired with a low-key ballad. He took the expectations he set for himself with his debut, Blue Neighborhood, and smashed them with a super queer hammer.
There isn't a bad song out of the album's 10 tracks, Sivan's songwriting abilities shine over each intricate beat. There are songs for crying, songs for dancing, and songs to scream in the car with the windows rolled down. Bloom is everything pop music should be.