Troye Sivan’s ‘In a Dream’ meets all fan expectations


Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA / CC BY-SA

With just six tracks, “In a Dream” embodies Troye Sivan’s growth since his debut in 2013.

By Elena Eaton and Mabrie Woods

As a sequel to the paradoxical yet harmonious union of melancholy lyricism and upbeat tempo featured in his 2018 “Bloom” album, Troye Sivan develops his sound by pushing the boundaries of indie pop in his 2020 album “In A Dream.”

Starting his career in August of 2013 as a YouTuber, Troye Sivan quickly became loved by many. He debuted as a musician in 2015 with his album “Blue Neighbourhood,” an instant fan-favorite, followed by “Bloom” in 2018, an album that “took him to places beyond his imagination.”

Sivan has since amassed a diverse following of anyone who has ever experienced love, loss, and longing. He has been particularly popular within the LGBT+ community who, through his music, have recognized themselves in his lyrics. He does not shy away from the truth of falling in love as a queer teenager. This, in turn, creates a certain nostalgia that many can relate to.

Since the release of his first album, Sivan has established himself as a musician that does not hesitate to share the highs and lows of falling in love. The vulnerability he exhibits in his album is nothing new to his fans, but it definitely continues to bring them back.

Classically retelling the breakup cycle his former collaborator Taylor Swift so adeptly phrased, “I hate you, we break up, you call me, I love you,” “In A Dream” perfectly marries hazy instrumentals with lively 80s synth beats to fully “capture the modern sense of melancholy.”

In keeping with his 80s influences, Sivan spins his tragic love story right round like a record, starting with the first track. Shrouded in sorrowful chords and haunting melodies, “Take Yourself Home” sets the stage for a relationship headed south.

A bout of infidelity and due apology are revealed in “Easy,” though the relationship is clearly over. “could cry just thinking about you” (styled in lowercase) communicates how Sivan is mourning the loss of his lover.

Typical of the young and heartbroken, Sivan rebounds with “STUD” but eventually reconnects with his original partner in “Rager teenager!” 

Perhaps more complex than this woeful progression of events is the duality of “In A Dream.” Musically, the up-tempo tracks synthesize a catchy collection of songs you can dance and listen to on repeat. Lyrically, Sivan articulates the transition from heartbreak to acceptance that so many in his audience can relate to.

Culminating in the closing track “IN A DREAM,” Sivan accepts his relationship just isn’t written in the stars and concludes his overarching idea that self discovery can happen in the aftermath of heartbreak.

“Take Yourself Home” introduces the topic of heartache with brooding introspective tones and light vocals in the background of Sivan’s low, baritone voice. Dissatisfied with the Californian nightlife, Sivan chants “I’m tired of the city, scream if you’re with me / If I’m gonna die, let’s die somewhere pretty.” 

Sivan’s detached tone evidences his discontent with his current situation: geographical and romantic. In a soliloquy-esque manner, Sivan voices how he needs to be honest with himself and his goals for the future. Questioning why he is where he is and what he’s working towards, Sivan expresses “…happiness is right there where you lost it / when you took the bet / counting all the losses that you can’t collect.”

Troye Sivan’s latest album explores his feelings about love and romance. (EMI, Universal and Capitol [Fair Use])

After the track’s release, Sivan revealed to Genius Lyrics that this handful of lines was meant as a warning to his audience to pursue something because, first and foremost, they enjoy it. Sivan details that, often, he found himself in pursuit of something that warranted a lot of sacrifice, only to later realize that his goal wasn’t as important to him as he’d thought. 

At its core, this opening track begins Sivan’s love story with downtrodden beats and lyrics that delve into a seemingly-defeated relationship. 

Following the melancholy of “Take Yourself Home,” this second track takes on a much more upbeat sound. With an uptempo “pop-y” rhythm, “Easy” matches the style of Sivan’s 2018 “Bloom” album.  

Though telling the story of a cheating partner returning to beg forgiveness, Sivan focuses the chorus “I can’t even look at you / Would you look at the space just next to your feet? / The wood is warping / The lines distorting” on his burning desire to make amends with his partner.  

With lyricism describing how he verges on tears at the sight of a love uncontrollably slipping through his fingers, Sivan paints a heart-wrenching picture almost all of his audience has seen before. More relatable than the story he tells is the music he couples that tale with. An up-tempo peppy track like “Easy” is impossible not to dance to, regardless of its morose deeper meaning.  

Maybe Sivan was attempting to show that below the cheery facade, some relationships can’t escape a sorrowful ending– even happy songs aren’t immune to heartache. One thing is for certain, Sivan’s second track exemplifies the duality between “In A Dream”’s intense lyricism and “Easy”-listening melodies.

The shortest track on Sivan’s album, “could cry just thinkin about you” weaves together guitar instrumentals and an echo-y autotune, symbolic of the heartache he’s drowning in, to create a tapestry of love Sivan unravels throughout the album.

Next on the album is “STUD,” a song all about human sexuality, intimacy and feelings that come with it. This song explores the anxiety and self consciousness that many people in same-sex relationships have to deal with. Throughout the song, Sivan is detailing a hook-up but is seen struggling to determine if he is attracted to his partner or if he just wants to be like him. This anxiety follows him throughout the song where he ends by asking his partner if he’s “into this, right?” 

Following the narrative of the album, the song “Rager teenager!” details the reunion between Sivan and his lover. Alternatively, the song is revealed to also be a letter to his past self, where, within the album, he is talking about losing himself in the arms of his lover. Sivan is furthermore reflecting on how he wished his teenage self would have experienced life.

Sivan has very openly talked about his struggles with internalized homophobia, and this song can be viewed as a plea to his younger self to love himself more and enjoy his teenage years more.

“IN A DREAM” is the last song on the album, and is a perfect, yet bittersweet, ending to the story. The song “was inspired by a dream so intense that Sivan woke up crying.” It showcases his struggles with moving on from his partner, and that no matter how hard Sivan tried, his lover would still show up in his dreams.

Writing “Guess I even forgive you / For you not wanting to leave, no, no, no / Put my shoes on and run away / But you still show up in a dream,” he shows that he accepts that even though it will be hard to move on, it is for the better. 

And, as the synth-pop fades off, he concludes the love story and every feeling associated with it, showing that you can have a happy ending without forcing yourself into a relationship that does not work. 

Despite the rollercoaster this year has been, Sivan has brought us back to the reality we once lived with his modern love story.  From the love lost in “Take Yourself Home” to the heartache in “could cry just thinkin about you”, from the denial in “Rager teenager!” to the acceptance in “IN A DREAM,” Sivan has skillfully combined synth-pop beats and up-tempo tracks to make us feel, despite these uncertain times, like we’re “IN A DREAM.

This story was originally published on The Vision MSMS on September 1, 2020.