Every so often, we discover music by an artist who takes you by surprise. Troye Sivan’s debut EP, TRXYE, is one of these cases. The 19 year old singer, actor and YouTube sensation has reached new heights this year, taking the mainstream pop industry by storm. In 2013, he had fans buzzing with the release of his single, The Fault In Our Stars, showcasing his musical abilities to over 2 million subscribers on YouTube. He’s now taken his musical interests to a professional level, and his debut offering doesn’t disappoint.
Sivan’s sound can’t be compared to other artists we hear on mainstream radio; in fact, he’s in a league of his own. His music is a hybrid combination of smooth R&B, synth-pop and subtle trance. The EP’s opener and first released single, Happy Little Pill, lays down the genre he’ s aiming for: chiller, sexy vibes that sound very inspired by The Weeknd, only less sexually explicit. The track is exceptionally produced, featuring a resonating pulse that eventually leads to a symphony of synths and electro-beats. Sivan’s vocals are something else altogether – he’s silky smooth, yet there’s a certain sadness as he croons about “glazed eyes, empty hearts”. Despite sounding slightly manufactured, no amount of production could take away the emotion he lays down in each track.
Likewise, Touch is equally delicate and sexy, his echoey vocals giving off a haunting yet thrilling rush. What sounds like a simple track quickly gives away to a killer bass drop, and it’s a fantastic, hip-swaying instrumental that’s both soaring and hypnotic. It’s not all electronic though; The Fault In Our Stars features broken piano chords and a rumbling percussion. Inspired by John Green’s novel, it’s a romantic track that builds in texture and volume, eventually ending with a triumphant and cinematic finish. There’s also a dreamy keyboard in Fun, and it’s a welcome change that gives the EP a slight dynamic. Although Fun resembles a feel-good anthem in it’s melodic production, it hides a much more serious, sinister meaning. Sivan is ironically referring to the violence in the Middle East, with lyrics such as “you’re gonna make them proud, boy, ’till they put you in the ground” encased in an upbeat melody which cleverly resembles the mood of the track’s title. It’s not that Sivan is promoting acts of war – rather, he questions the legitimacy of violence by placing himself from a gunman’s perspective. The irony isn’t lost on us – its alarming and challenging lyrics are disguised with chanting friends and a spectacularly seductive delivery.
But Sivan also has a deeper, vulnerable side to him. In Gasoline, we get the impression that he’s quite a complex boy; he’s at war with his own mind, and out of selfishness he makes mistakes and hurts those he cares about. He sings with such convincing remorse and honesty, wishing someone would just “bathe me now, wash me clean”; any repenting person could relate to these lyrics. A gentle piano serves as the accompaniment to his vocals, which are more diverse in range and volume. It’s both lyrically and melodically impressive; a definite standout in the EP.
Sivan is a boy of many talents, one of them being able to convey a story through song. Both cheery and heavy elements are in there, as he reflects upon themes including love, addiction, loneliness and heartbreak. Perhaps there’s a bit more to the YouTube sensation than we first thought – TRXYE is an EP that demonstrates a certain level of maturity, from a boy who’s well beyond his teenage years.