Review Summary: Nothing being done wrong doesn't automatically mean it's being done right.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some form of respect for Mr. Troye Sivan. The guy clearly knows his target audience- mostly the teenage demographic, and he's already succeeded on that level in a number of ways. The YouTuber/Pop musician has millions of subscribers on his channel, and he's played things perfectly safe on both of his mediums- his channel mostly being personal musings, and his music being mid-tempo psuedo-pop anthems seen through a Lana Del Rey lens. He may be an easy target for criticism, but at least it's clear that he isn't trying to appeal to anyone over the age of 25- which is pretty admirable. But is "knowing your audience" enough to deify you of playing things so safe that it fails to stand on its own? While it's indeed admirable that he's doing what he wants, it really isn't as if there aren't already several pop musicians doing exactly what he's doing right now. The dreary pastiche has gotten incredibly cliche, thanks in no small part to the heavy airplay of tracks like Lorde's "Royals" and Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness", and it doesn't appear to be going anywhere any time soon.
So it's probably with that in mind that a track like Sivan's "Happy Little Pill" is destined to be a huge hit. Like everything else he does, said track plays things incredibly safe for the majority of its duration, but there's plenty to like about it- to name a few, the sense of grandeur and sweep that permeates it, the distorted drum machines, the sense of hopeless despair that hangs over the lyrics like a dark cloud (Sivan did write it about watching his friend suffer from depression), even if said mood is ruined by unintentionally goofy bits ("Gucci down the boulevard
"), the ill-placed vocal samples). It's nothing new, and his rather bland vocal style doesn't help much, but it suits the song for sure, and it's not hard to imagine people liking this rather dark anthem.
Otherwise, Sivan's self-titled debut EP has really nothing else of note to offer. It's 17 minutes of painfully safe music, so safe and inoffensive that it becomes a complete chore to sit through in its¬*¬*¬*¬* entirety, so much that single tracks from classic rock bands that run similar lengths or longer seem to feel like a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in comparison. It isn't that any of the tracks are bad- in fact, there isn't really anything being done wrong here. None of the songs are bad, and despite some cringey moments that happen in them. Listened to on their own, they're probably enjoyable. "FUN" is a decent song in example- though Sivan seems to repeat the word "Boy" a bit too much in the lyrics, and the song repeats itself a bit too much, but it's fun party tune that could probably bring the house down if played at the right volume in a room full of drunk people. But while it isn't a bad song, it's also another indicator of what's wrong with the EP as whole- Sivan seems to show no interest throughout in leaving his comfort zone, and while that isn't inherently a bad thing, it's just so frustrating to hear the complacency so loudly above the actual music. What could have been a powerful breakup ballad, "GASOLINE" (seriously, this kid needs to fix his caps lock key), is ruined by said complacency and lame lyrics like "Set my heart on fire/Like Gasoline
Despite said cringey moments, there isn't anything overtly wrong with TRXYE
. There certainly seems to be nothing wrong with Mr. Sivan himself, even if he comes off as a bit of an attention whore in interviews. The guy seems to be happy with what he's doing, and power to him for it, but he's a lot happer than we are listening to the result, which is what the biggest problem with the EP is. Nothing being done wrong doesn't exactly equal stuff being done right. TRXYE
, as a result, ends up being so inoffensive that it's offensive in turn, and while it's easy to admire his happiness, sometimes others' happiness can be just a tiny bit too frustrating for others.