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If it wasn’t for love, we wouldn’t have pop music in the world. And if it wasn’t for sex, we wouldn’t have great pop music. Troye Sivan explored love and coming out on his 2015 debut Blue Neighbourhood, released when he was 20. His follow-up, the new Troye Sivan album Bloom, out today, is his sex album — with a twist.
“It’s a confidence and an attitude that I really wanted to explore,” Sivan says. “It’s that feeling where you go out with your friends and you can feel that sense of community when a bunch of people who have probably been through some rough times come together and are enjoying moving however they want to move, and being whoever they want to be. I wanted to explore that more so than actual sexuality.”
True, certainly, but the new Troye Sivan album Bloom, named after its bouncy electropop anthem about bottoming, is carnal and sensual and cock-crazy. From his teasing volley of “I got these beliefs that I think you wanna break” on opener “Seventeen” through to the basic instincts of he and his lover “covered all in the night before” as he winds down with “Animal,” the young artist is in celebration mode. Nowhere is this more evident than on the feline groove of “My My My!”
“I was thinking to myself, ‘What do I want to see that’s not being represented in the media? What is everyone — me included because I’ve been holding off from doing this for so long — so scared of?’” he says. “‘What is so scary about a young gay guy really just enjoying himself, and letting him move as feminine or as masculine as he wants, and strutting around?’ I did want to explore that carefree confidence, because I definitely didn’t see a lot of it growing up, where I felt like, ‘Oh wow, that’s what it looks like to be gay and happy.'”
If those don’t sound like the words of a burgeoning gay icon, I’m not sure what does.
Since getting some intense media blowback for claiming that he doesn’t want to be called a gay icon, he’s walked back his comment with some sharp, thoughtful observations. “With people like Hayley Kiyoko and Brockhampton, we’re starting to get, finally, a diverse group of different LGBTQ perspectives,” he says. “That’s why I politely don’t want to take on that ‘gay icon’ thing. I’m one voice of so many that are missing. There are plenty of other people who need to be heard first.”
Some of Sivan’s ideas have been addressed in pop for decades — the pushing against gender definitions (especially during the advent of MTV, with Prince and Madonna leading the way) — and some are ripe for exploration: the lack of diversity in media representation (let us not forget this is a praising review of yet another gay white artist), the restrictions we place on ourselves as the LGBTQ community, et cetera.
Sivan may or may not be the artist to tackle these issues in song. He’s still very young, with good times and booty calls on the brain. He invites Ariana Grande, our current reigning diva, to duet on “Dance to This,” and he employs any number of nature metaphors to handle his urges throughout, from the title track to the aforementioned “Animal” to the relationship-ending (and very juicy) “Plum.”
Yet he’s in a position of power here as one of our most successful and out artists still on the cultural ascendency. He may have recently said, “I just don’t represent everybody, because I’m extraordinarily lucky. I come from a middle-class white family in Australia, and all of my dreams have come true by 22,” but that’s just his humble side talking.
Because with the new Troye Sivan album Bloom — and its open specificity regarding the intoxicating liberations of sex — he represents more, so much more, than he knows.
The new Troye Sivan album Bloom is out today.
Featured image of Troye Sivan by Jules Faure