It’s easy to feel charmed by Troye Sivan. The gentle lilt of his voice warmly hugs the gentle synth-pop beats he opts for in his songs. On Bloom, Sivan’s sophomore album, he adds a touch more vigor and nuance to the loveliest qualities of his debut album Blue Neighbourhood.
The tender naivety in Sivan’s voice pairs perfectly with an album that tackles a variety of First Times: sexual, emotional and otherwise. Bloom negotiates what it means to give and receive passion, and Sivan finds himself channeling both innocence and weary maturity as he navigates blossoming feelings, broken hearts and the personal growth that stems from both experiences.
On opening track “Seventeen,” he swims in teenage lust for an anthemic and poised reflection on having sex for the first time with someone older and the complicated feelings that follow — “Boy becomes a man now/Tell that man to slow down/He’ll just do whatever/Do whatever he wants.” He gives the experience a more positive spin on the intoxicating “Bloom,” a tender and upbeat moment of puppy love.
The album’s ballads are hits and misses. Early release “The Good Side” remains a sleepy acoustic moment that strives for Sufjan Stevens’ earnestness without totally hitting the mark. Later, however, the album hits its highest note with the piano-driven “Postcard,” a heart-wrenching tale of a neglectful lover who refuses to return the attention, love and care Sivan willingly gives to him.
Musically, Bloom plays it fairly safe, awash in the aforementioned gentle synths as well as ambient drum fills. The golden ticket is in the details, piercing scenes of lips that taste like Lucky Strike cigarettes (“Lucky Strike”) or the metaphorical plums and tangerines of “Plum.” Well beyond the already stellar dismissal of heteronormative storylines in pop love stories, Sivan finds a wealth of ways to bring about fresh reflections on age-old themes with undeniable charisma.