Troye Sivan began his career as a YouTuber in the 2010s and rose to mainstream success as a singer on the global stage. Troye is one of the few creators from those early years who managed to break out of the YouTube bubble and still remain successful afterward. He used his platform to build a career from scratch and has yet to make that spectacular fall from grace that many of his YouTuber counterparts did.
One of the breakout points of Troye’s career was his first EP, Blue Neighborhood. It was a mini album with six songs, along with a trilogy of music videos. The music videos told a cohesive story starting with the song “Wild,” then the title track “Fools,” and finishing with “Talk Me Down.” The EP later turned into a full studio album with several more songs.
It’s hard to put into words just how well done this full album is. It has very poignant themes of growing up queer, dealing with real relationships and struggles, as well as just getting older and moving away from your home. The songs are about different subject matters, but there’s a throughline in the sequencing of the album. It creates a melancholy tone with an underlying message of hope and freedom.
Songs like “Bite,” “Youth,” and “Talk Me Down” speak to a romantic interest. They have themes of young love and speak about safety and even sensuality in the case of “Bite.” Other songs like “Lost Boy” and “Ease” are Troye narrating the challenges of his own life and struggles; “Lost Boy” can be especially relatable for the audience.
I also want to give a special acknowledgment to the song “Heaven,” which acts as a centerpiece of the album. A collaboration between Troye and singer Betty Who, this song might be one of the rawest and most moving depictions of coming to terms with your sexuality. When you grow up with an idea of heaven around you and are told that being gay is a sin, you might start wondering if you yourself are a sin. The song’s lyrics go: “Without losing a piece of me / How do I get to heaven? / Without changing a part of me / How do I get to heaven?” The chorus ends with the line, “So if I’m losing a piece of me / Maybe I don’t want heaven?”
“Heaven” is a powerful song that speaks to generations of people who have gone through the same experiences. The song captures that feeling of ultimate helplessness in admitting who you are to yourself and where you want to go from there. But it also shows that you can take back your agency from the world and live your life as freely as you want.
All in all, Blue Neighborhood is (in my opinion) a masterpiece for LGBTQ+ music. It’s an album made for comfort and introspection, and it really, truly delivers on that.