Two months ago, actor-turned-YouTube personality Troye Sivan — famous for clips such as “Waxing My Legs with Zoella” and “HOW TO BE COOL” — released a video on his channel called “I Have Something To Tell You…” Given the video’s staggering 1.9 million views, I was immediately interested in just what it was that he had to tell us.
At first glance, I assumed it was a coming out video. YouTube has become a popular forum for Internet celebrities and ordinary people alike to express their innermost secrets to the world. But of course, any true Sivan fan would know he already released his coming out video in August 2013.
After having a minor existential crisis about my devotion to Troye, I pressed play. Sivan, with his signature cheekiness and charm, revealed he had signed his first record deal for an EP that would come out in August.
Just when I thought the actor, YouTuber and recent Teen Choice Award recipient could accomplish no more, Sivan, only 19, showcases his musical prowess through his debut EP, TRXYE. Since he previewed “Happy Little Pill,” the EP’s first track, TRXYE has been highly anticipated. And it doesn’t disappoint.
Sivan’s boyish voice and the album’s heavy synth/electronic influence led me to expect a teenybopper, boy-band vibe. But TRXYE is brimming with deeply mature and dark lyrics, a divergence from the summer anthems normally associated with synth pop. TRXYE succeeded in upending my conceptions of electronic pop music.
The five-track EP begins with “Happy Little Pill,” a melancholic pop anthem, setting the tone for the entire album. Likening love to an addiction, “Happy Little Pill” demonstrates Sivan’s mature take on the themes of love and loneliness. He sings with a sense of numbness, criticizing the fast-paced and indulgent city lifestyle (“Glazed eyes, empty hearts / Buying happy from shopping carts”), all while entrancing the listener with introspection on the high associated with love.
Next up, “Touch” is a ballad about taking risks. Though slow-moving in the beginning, the song gives way to a dubstep-heavy chorus reminiscent of Flume’s remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Court.” “Touch” is about losing inhibitions and doing everything with a sense of conviction. The music and lyrics of “Touch” combine to reflect the worldliness of a seasoned philosopher with the nervousness of an inexperienced teenager. My favorite song from the EP, “Touch” leaves us with the same takeaway as YOLO, but does so with more poetic flair: “And I need you to trust the lust / We must get past all these rules/We must choose to reach out and touch.”
A quintessential road trip jam, “Fun” is a more lighthearted song that breaks from Sivan’s introspective lyrics and reminds us that the album was, indeed, written by a 19-year-old. With an up-tempo trajectory, “Fun” evokes the wide-eyed youthfulness of a teenage rebel who is looking to let loose, break the rules and enjoy the ride.
In his most personal track, Sivan’s “Gasoline” is a breakup song that possesses all the pain, sadness and longing associated with heartbreak. Here, Sivan flexes his songwriting muscles while making himself vulnerable to the listener. His voice rings with honesty and maturity, bringing out the song’s redemptive quality and emotional value: “Please bathe me now, wash me clean / Just set my heart on fire like gasoline.”
I also commend Sivan for his use of male pronouns in “Gasoline.” Today, few openly gay artists reference the nature of their sexual preference, opting instead for gender-neutral pronouns and ambiguous lyrics. As such, Sivan reveals an openness that resonates deeply in his music.
The EP ends with a remastered version of “The Fault in Our Stars (MMXIV),” a song Sivan wrote in honor of John Green’s eponymous novel. The track’s first line (“The weight of a simple human emotion / Weighs me down / More than the tank ever did.”) beautifully summarizes the emotional and poignant aesthetic of the entire album.
TRXYE is a testament to its artist’s versatility and talent. Sivan masterfully combines his boyish youth and modern touch with a haunting — and, at times, painful — sense of maturity. Sivan’s EP is likely just the beginning of a long and successful venture into the music industry.