Troye Sivan’s sophomore album, “Bloom,” acts as a full embrace of Sivan’s queerness. His identity does not take a back-burner to the sound; it becomes synonymous with it. Sivan doesn’t shy away from the experiences that have made him the proud man he is today; he takes all the good and bad and compiles it into a carefully crafted album that is a full celebration of queer love.
It is not derivative to call this “a queer album” rather than “an album made by someone who just so happens to be queer.” This album isn’t marketed as assimilatory, but rather celebratory (of queer romance specifically.) One crucial standout is the third track, “The Good Side,” which follows the aftermath of a break-up for two different broken hearts. Sivan’s soulful and apologetic ballad takes full responsibility for getting “the good side of life” (and of the other person) and owns up to the inequality of break-ups. Given the immensity of emotion that can be experienced during the first queer relationships that someone has, the fall-out from them can be particularly devastating for young queer people. While a universal emotion, Sivan’s characterization of regret through a relationship between two men personalizes the common narrative into something unique for queer people.
Similarly, “Seventeen” embraces queer-specific experiences by telling the story of Sivan meeting an older man through Grindr. Sivan’s sound conveys the sentiment of a young, inexperienced gay man, which uniquely chronicles his adolescence of not being able to experience sexual freedom as a teenager. “What A Heavenly Way to Die” encapsulates this new embrace of sex, recalling the intrinsically lovely emotion of being intimate with someone you care for. Queer people don’t always have opportunities to pronounce their desires loud and proud, and Sivan’s elegant expression of his own seems to recognize that in the audience. Though not inherently political, it still seems revolutionary to hear queer artists singing unapologetically about their queer partners.
Sivan embraces sexual explicitness with a soft, hesitant sound that beckons exploration for all. Much speculation arose around the track “Bloom,” which is rumored to be about bottoming for the first time. Sexual content in music is extremely common, but not with overtly queer tones. Even with the track “My My My!” the idea of embracing the previously unrequited in the form of a catchy dance track normalizes queer affection and sensuality in the most natural way possible. “Lucky Strike,” and the metaphorical and physical “tasting” of his partner, elicits a sense of teenage infatuation with its lyrics full of youthful sexual hesitance. It’s a stark reminder that this content hasn’t existed in the mainstream, and when it has, it has been labeled as perverted and deviant. While a white gay man succeeding in the music industry isn’t revolutionary when compared to more marginalized queer and trans artists, it is hopeful that queer voices are breaking barriers and encouraging varied narratives in music.
Sivan succeeds with Bloom by adopting a more overtly sexual sound while still maintaining his signature delicateness. His career is still blossoming, but he recognizes that. Troye Sivan is letting his musical maturation parallel the evolution of his life. We’ll be along for the ride.