BEST NEW INDIE: TROYE SIVAN - ANIMAL
Australia's Troye Sivan recreates an epic '80s arena ballad on "Animal."
Pop music protege Troye Sivan isn't old enough to remember what a Motley Crue or a Poison concert in the '80s was actually like. And yet, he manages to perfectly capture the lighter-in-the-air, arms-around-the-shoulder feeling of a slow rock ballad to an almost uncanny degree. With some modern twists, of course.
"Animal" is built on a framework of ambient, atmospheric post-rock and electronics. Sivan's honey-like vocals crest in calmly over patient, glowing keyboards and barely-there psychedelic guitar. The spartan minimalism is held together with a nimbus of synth pads and glistening feedback. It's more Sigur Ros than Skid Row. If this were to be an 80s rock concert, it's one happening on an abandoned space station orbiting Alpha Centauri.
TROYE SIVAN - ANIMAL
The production isn't the only thing forward-thinking about "Animal." Although he's not came out and said as much, many speculate that the newest single from Sivan's upcoming album Bloom is written for his boyfriend Jacob Bixenman. You certainly would have never heard big room rock ballads about boy-on-boy love in the 80s, the first time around. It's a sign of the times and of how things are improving, which we dearly need at this time in history.
Sivan's not only improving on the '80s. "Animals" sounds fresh and of-the-moment, yet he shows more restraint than many of his millennial peers. It's got the same anthemic "we're in this together" feeling, but there's not a single millennial whoop or tropical island beat to be heard. Instead, Sivan's doing his own thing, making something timeless instead of incredibly timely. It's a good look for "Animal," as it gives a sense of seriousness and weight to Sivan's love song. This is not the movie version of a relationship, it is the real thing. "Animal" is infinitely more moving because of it.
"Animal" is the latest and most-likely last single of Sivan's upcoming album Bloom, which is due to be released on August 31. It follows previous singles "My My My" and "Dance To This," featuring Ariana Grande. It might be the last straw, pushing Sivan stans into an ecstatic overload boiling point meltdown.
This is in large part due to being co-written with Brill Building's Bram Inscore. Inscore's co-written and produced half of Troye Sivan's debut album, following production stints with Hayley Kiyoko and Mayer Hawthorne. You can hear shades of Hayley Kiyoko's ghostly, atmospheric club beats, from Kiyoko's "One Bad Night," which Inscore co-wrote and produced, mixed with some of Mayer Hawthorne's big screen soul. It's a thrilling, winning combination that hints at Sivan's crossover potential.
We Are: The Guard love '80s aesthetics, when used responsibly. We can worship lasers and neon and cool sunglasses and wearing all black without having to return to an era of homophobia, toxic masculinity, and rampant materialism. Leave your coke habit at home and come dance to the outer realms of the galaxy with Troye Sivan.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.