Australian pop artist and queer icon Troye Sivan released his new EP at the end of August. After the release of his critically acclaimed second album ‘Bloom’ in 2018, which cemented him as a true pop hero, he delves deeper into the world of indie pop with ‘in a dream’. Produced during the COVID-19 lockdown, the emotions he has on display here feel even more warped and sad, but it still makes us want to dance, which is exactly the point.
Short but shockingly fresh, this sultry body of work details Troye going through an emotional rollercoaster period in his life. Centering around a break-up rumored to be with his ex of four years around the start of quarantine, Troye retreated back home to Australia and began writing music again about coping with heartbreak and self-doubt while the world around you seems to crumble. Every song recounts his different thoughts in a certain moment and time and they make a full mesmerizing short story of their own. This is a definitive ranking of the 6-track EP:
- could cry just thinkin about you
Every line I write is something about you
Every guy I want looks something just like you
I don’t know who I am, with or without you
But I guess I’m ’bout to find out
This 52-second interlude in the middle of the EP would have been much higher on this list if it was longer! could cry just thinkin about you is such a hazy and soulful heartthrob with guitar-heavy strums and Troye’s soothing echoey voice underneath that it makes you want to shed a quick tear. You almost forget that this EP is a break-up record until you stumble upon this emotionally warped indie-ballad. We cannot imagine how amazing this would be if he were to transform it into a full-length song.
- Take Yourself Home
I’m tired of the city, scream if you’re with me
If I’m gonna die, let’s die somewhere pretty
Sad in the summer, city needs a mother
Take Yourself Home as the lead single was moved up for release back in April and very appropriately so. We got introduced to a whole new side of him musically – featuring heavy electronic dance coda – but also emotionally, with a darker (lyrical) atmosphere than his previous discography. This EP-opening track was actually written before quarantine and it’s about “A pep talk with yourself and the place you’re from. Grappling with your place in the world.” But Troye has also stated that “As life and places change and relationships change, songs can take on a new meaning entirely.”
Hey stud, you can come and meet me out front
You got all the muscles and the features I want
The term ‘STUD’ generally refers to attractive and sexually active men, and this song describes what happens when the gay community becomes hyper-sexualized. Troye sings about a desire for validation from men with ideal muscular bodies. However, there’s confusion in the lyrics as to whether he wants to be with a stud, or be one himself, as the track switches up from the ballad-like verses to the house-anthem (pre-)choruses with beats galore. Troye’s autotuned and distorted vocals lend further ammunition to the bold and flirtatious narrative of queer sexual desire tainted with body insecurities.
You ran away to find something to say
I went astray to make it okay
And he made it easy, darlin’
The most 80s sounding track on In A Dream is also the most crying-on-the-dancefloor song, with heavy synths, smart uses of autotune, and heartbreaking lyrics. Easy was released as the second single to universal acclaim by critics praising his distinctiveness from other conventional pop stars. Here Troye is allegedly apologizing for cheating as he narrates a desire to reconcile a deteriorating relationship. “He made it easy,” as in finding solace in someone else’s arms while still being in a relationship, the emotions feel so raw and honest that it’s hard to picture someone like Troye as the bad guy.
- IN A DREAM
Put my shoes on and run away
But you still show up in a dream
Only making this harder
‘Cause I still have to see your, see your face
The EP’s titular track is also the closing track, describing Troye’s break-up. The way that the song title is written in all caps describes exactly how it feels when you can’t escape your ex even in your dreams: it’s abrupt and loud, screaming in your face and leaving the echoes behind when you wake up. This dreamy indie-pop song with tinges of rock mixed throughout is irresistible to not dance to with its non-stop drumbeats and melodramatic theatre-kid lyrics.
IN A DREAM represents the entire EP perfectly in trying to find that freedom for yourself in the face of certain adversity. But here the story is still unfolding, the emotions are fresh and sometimes even impulsive: “Can you come back? Wait, I don’t mean that,” we don’t know what the endgame is, but we are all here for the ride regardless.
- Rager teenager!
Hey, my lil’ rager teenager, tryna figure it out
Living a season of screaming, and turning it out
Hey, my little rager teenager, I’ve missed you around
If could cry just thinking about you was a snack, then Rager teenager! is the whole damn meal. These two tracks are very similar to one another in that you would play them waking up on a Sunday morning all alone in your house, longing for something exciting to happen. The lyrics that Troye soothingly sings in echoes are very reminiscent of his older work, but there is a clear maturity here. With his voice beautifully vocal-layered into the production, it feels like a slow-burn and it evokes nostalgia with its shimmering synths and drum-heavy breakdowns.
Rager teenager! was the third and final single surprise-released by Troye, and he has stated that it is “A letter to your old-self, and a little bit of hope for the future”. As Troye struggled with his sexuality as a teenager, this song represents going back to your younger self, reflecting and reconciling a part of you that is still stuck there, and eventually realizing that better future for yourself. In a worldwide lockdown, this couldn’t be more applicable to the angsty young-adults still coming to terms with themselves.
Check out Billboard’s ranking
Listen to the EP here
Cover: Capitol Records 2020