BOTTOM LINE Endearing pop star behind "My My My!" feels love, holds back.
On his second album, 23-year-old Australian singer Troye Sivan has discovered a pop road map that allows him to sing about torrid affairs and white-hot romantic desperation in a way that's contemplative and gently soulful. In a duet with Ariana Grande over a typically sparse beat in "Dance to This," he recalls bringing a lover home from "all the parties," and spills out an earnest, irresistible come-on: "Under the kitchen lights / You still look like dynamite."
Much of "Bloom" (EMI) unfolds according to this same theme and style: Attraction is peaking, sex is on the way, tenderness is critical, instrumentation is minimal. Sivan has a sweet, cool, understated voice, and he infrequently busts it out, Mariah Carey-style, so the novelty of his soaring tenor toward the end of the minor-key piano ballad "Postcard" gives it the feel of an operatic crescendo.
Sivan scatters cliches throughout the album — "I wanna be with you," "I die every night with you," "I am an animal with you," the booming drums that offset the acoustic guitar at the end of "The Good Side" — and it is sometimes so minimalist that becomes uninteresting. (Among his many producers and songwriters are rising Swedish kingmaker Oscar Holter and prolific Grammy winner Ariel Rechtshaid.) But he is endearing and earnest and knows what to do with A Song. "My My My!," an early-2018 smash (37 million YouTube views), has a killer, inverted-'NSYNC chorus; the title track is nicely self-aware about the preciousness of young love. "I bloom/I bloom / Just for you," Sivan sings, to windswept electronic production. The moments of great beauty here would be more powerful if Sivan didn't make the rare pop-star mistake of holding back.