Friday, 13 November 2015

Troye Sivan - Blue Neighbourhood Trilogy Review

With his latest releases Troye seems to be bringing to the table the most personal of concept albums. His Electropop Ep ‘Wild’ includes two thirds of what he calls his ‘Blue Neighbourhood Trilogy’ with the third being released separately. The three songs: Wild, Fools and Talk me Down tell some version of Troye growing up in a small town as an ‘out’ individual and the trials and tribulations people face due to an ongoing stigmatisation of the LGBT community focusing on the impact of this on himself.
‘Wild’ documents the foundations of a relationship with someone that he has grown up with. It describes the long waits they endure to see each other while keeping their relationship a secret, eventually culminating in an intervention which ends it all too soon. This song is about confusion and emotional chest pains, to put it bluntly, with phrases such as ‘white noise’ and my personal favourite, as the music cuts out to leave a few solitary reverbing chords in the background highlighting the vocals, “You make my heart shake, bend and break. But I can’t turn away and it’s driving me wild”. The song implements a choir of children during the chorus with a breaking up of the word ‘Wii-i-i-ild’ cementing its childish innocence and catapulting the cliché of puppy love into the 21st Century.
‘Fools’ takes us a wander further down this path of despair opening with a much more melancholy piano contrasting with the children’s voices and deep bass drum intro of ‘Wild’. The song begins almost unsurely, unconfidently. In the first few lines the feeling of emptiness is clear “I need time to replace what I’ve gave away”. As the lyrics move to the future instead of dwelling on the past the music crescendos with them, the conservative delayed drums aid the build-up and finally as the lyrics plunge into self-doubt and regret, the synth plunges with them, leading to a hypnotising crash of music and emotion. Unfortunately rather than adding more to this story from here the song simply keeps the music as it is from this point on and doesn’t dare take it or, or the lyrics for that matter, in any other directions. It is one of my favourite songs of his so far simply for the genius build up early on in the song but I am disappointed that he seems to have ran out of ideas for this song from there and moved on to the next.
‘Talk me Down’ continues the self-doubt theme and describes Troye unable to cope by himself: “Cause you know that I can’t trust my 3am shadow”. It shows Troye as a terrified little boy, one that’s dangerously starting to recede into his own head to deal with things he just can’t face head on “I’d rather fuel a fantasy than deal with this alone”. This is precisely what I love about this song. It’s so raw. It’s so bare. It’s so honest. The music is very, very basic, don’t expect to dance to this or happily whistle along to the melody while doing the dishes. Expect to have your mood drop a little then hear a line that specifically hits you, makes you sit your arse on a chair, crack open the wine and play the song again. It’s grim, I know, but heartfelt songs like this that don’t need catchy riffs to get your attention open up numerous roads for Troye to take. If he can really make you pay attention with something as bare as this song I can’t wait to see what else he can produce with a few more years and a few more life experiences.
I have few complaints with this trilogy, there’s the odd lyric I dislike such as using “you like stick I like aerosol” in ‘Fools’ to show the insignificant things the object of Troyes desire uses as reasons to claim they’re incompatible. I tried to justify this in my head but it’s just a bit over the top is it not? I think Troye spent ages looking for the perfect line, overthought it and missed the mark. There’s a few clangers of ‘misheard lyrics’ such as “Too long till I drown in your hands” in ‘Wild’ which takes away from the innocent nature of a song that tries to break ground by portraying a gay relationship as something other than purely sexual. (I’ll keep this review clean but seriously go listen to the song and tell me the way he sings ‘drown’ isn’t ridiculous). 

Of course these are very minor infractions, I really can’t seriously complain about what I’ve heard so far. All the words that come to mind to describe these songs personify them - and that’s exactly the point. When you realise how well this trilogy is crafted to elicit certain emotions from you, you’ll truly appreciate that you’ve been swept up in a tide that’s carried you on its journey and you’ll be as eager for the next wave as I am. I look forward to reviewing his album in full when it’s released, the material I’ve already heard has made me more excited than I’ve been in a long time. I recommend that you download all three tracks. Nathan Beck

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