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A Track-By-Track Review & Analysis of Troye Sivan’s EP “In A Dream”

Troye Sivan is a multi-platinum artist with multiple EPs, albums and impressive collaborations under his belt. Getting his start as a teen YouTuber, Troye has returned to his roots, recording a very personal EP from the security of his bedroom. The project, which is a culmination of quarantine and breakup blues, is “In A Dream.”

 

While there are discrepancies in things like song genres and stylization of titles, there are common threads connecting each track. Even the cover art suitably fits each song – the car, the raindrops, the deep blue and red, Troye’s closed eyes as he appears to be longing for something. There’s a messier sound and style to the project, but down to the cover, it works. The EP is personal, electronic and -fittingly- dreamy. It’s all about processing and change. Conceptual yet intimate, “In A Dream” provides a matured sound that’s an exciting taste of what is hopefully to continue coming from Troye Sivan.

Take Yourself Home

The first single from the surprise EP, “Take Yourself Home” blends electronic background beats with layered acoustic. This represent the falsehoods and synthetic nature of existence, contrasting the natural and gentle moments. This guitar aspect to the song also distinctly juxtaposes the aggression of the lyrics, which are also sung with a more gentle and almost bored tone. OzGo (Oscar Görres) produced the album, and his influence is clear. OzGo also worked on the track “My My My!” and there are distinct similarities in sound.

 

Troye is singing about a lack of personal fulfillment. He made it to where he thought he should be, but now it’s as though the saturation has been turned down on the picture and all of these beautiful things are a bleak gray. He feels alone with his thoughts, accomplishments and self. Troye sings, “I’m tired of the city/Scream if you’re with me/If I’m gonna die, let’s die somewhere pretty…Take yourself home… And how it got this dark is just beyond to me…And happiness/Is right there where you lost it…Got everything and nothing in my life.”

Easy

Another hit single from the EP, “Easy” is electronic in a very 80’s way. One can easily imagine Troye Sivan in a baggy button down and jeans, sliding around and swinging his arms in that very 80s way (think: Duckie’s record shop dance from “Pretty In Pink” or the detention dance from “The Breakfast Club).

 

“Easy” is about someone reaching out and trying to cling on to a love that’s trying to leave. It was once effortless, but someone strayed and now he’s terrified of being alone. The song is an easy listen, but the meaning is not as happy – That is much like the synths, which have a slightly darker tone. While the sound is, again, reminiscent of a lighter 80’s project, the lyrics contain more plot and depth. Troye opens with, “You ran away to find something to say/I went astray to make it okay/And he made it easy, darlin’/I’m still in love…” Someone was not faithful, or at least on their best behavior, as there was a “stranger at home.” Now the partner who didn’t bring infidelity to the mix is ready to part ways and the partner who went out looking for something easier is trying to hold on, but it’s time to “reap what you sow, my darling.” 

 

With some of the best details and lyricism of the EP Troye sings, “…Would you look at the space just next to your feet?/The wood is warping/The lines distorting/This house is on fire, woo!” He paints a picture of someone who’s so ashamed they’re hanging their head. The lines of the relationship have become augmented, like the grain on wood or the separation between panels after something was spilled or slowly leaking onto the ground, destroying it forever. Until the underlying problem is addressed, flooring cannot be unwarped. The person was so focused on the lines and shame, that they didn’t even notice that “this house is on fire,” almost like their head suddenly snapped up and they realized they’re ablaze, “woo!” Later in the song, Troye sings about “The smell on my hands,” like the lingering smell of gasoline, which is highly flammable, on him. This is also likely a reference to his song ““Gasoline,” which longtime fans will remember from his TRYXE EP. That song also centered around cheating, that time with Troye as the culprit, and its lasting effects.

 

In a 2018 interview with Out Magazine, Sir Elton John asked Troye if he ever gets “tempted” while on tour. Troye explained, “I don’t, actually. I’ve never been very adventurous in that way. I just take it easy.” 

could cry just thinkin about you

Only 53 seconds and a single small verse long, “could cry just thinkin about you” feels much longer due to the production. OzGo clearly grasped that sometimes, in terms of timing, less is more. The echoes and surges of the vocals paired with intense volume of the overlaid drums and guitar create a sound that washes over you. The overlapping instrumentals make one feel as though they’re drowning in Troye’s thoughts, as he’s overwhelmed by his lingering longing for his ex. Troye split with his boyfriend of four years, and shared, “This album was made in a absolute state of absolute f**king heartbreak, actually,” and it’s clear on this track. 

 

Troye sings, “I could cry just thinking about you…I don’t know who I am, with or without you But I guess I’m ’bout to find out.” It’s time for self-discovery, because the identity crisis existed before the breakup. Every song, painting, moment, book, boy and breath is about someone who is no longer there. 

STUD

Troye is looking for a simple, physical fling on “STUD.” While his 2018 album “Bloom” was chock full of sensual references and themes, there was a level of privacy and illusion that moved throughout the project, keeping things under lock and key (a poorly guarded key, but nonetheless). “STUD” is much more straightforward, and the busyness of the production makes it more accessible than the more polished sound on “Bloom.” There’s not much floral or romantic language on the track, because there’s nothing sweet or loving about the subject matter.

 

Beginning with a piano opening that bleeds into a fizzing sound, it’s as though Troye’s stepped outside of a club and is standing in front of a buzzing neon sign, “You can come/And meet me out front…” Troye splenda time appraising the subject of the song, talking about “the features I want,” but through this weaves in his own insecurities and struggles to overcome his fears, after being in a relationship, “What’s it like to be so big and strong/And so buff?/Everything I’m not/But could I still be a hunk to you?” Later as well, singing, “Just let me believe that/You like what you’re seeing/When you’re looking at me.” There’s a very constant sound to the song, until Troye’s voice goes up an octave and the production takes on a simpler and easier to hear sound, “Searching for something I’m not/Knowing that you’re not the one/(You’re the one for right now, yeah)…”  

 

Troye sings about exploring “down highways to Eden/Like my body’s the apple…” This is a reference to The Garden of Eden, which is found in the Old Testament Book of Genesis, where the first Biblical humans were ruled only by their desire and consumed a forbidden fruit (in most adaptations of the story, an apple is shown). In the Bible, the Garden of Eden represents a story of disappointment and guilt through relenting to urges, but in Judaism the role Eden plays is a bit different (there is no inherited sin, to start). In the Talmud Eden is often referred to as an afterlife location, of sorts. Troye is Jewish, and in Judaism Eden takes on a more complex role.. Troye is slipping into a complete bliss. This similar to his 2018 hit, “Bloom,” which included the lyric, “Take a trip into my garden.”

Rager teenager!

“In quarantine, a lot of people have rediscovered past hobbies, habits and parts of themselves that they buried away. Troye is singing to his inner teenager, found once again in a swarm of isolation and broken hearts…Troye is singing about the desires of youth. The need to feel alive, to feel free, to feel in control, to feel something without fear of judgement or scorn. He’s singing about a reality that existed before the pandemic, full of crowds packed with strangers and car rides filled with friends… Being trapped inside has returned many people to the feelings of repression that gripped them during their earlier years, and Troye is speaking to the return of that past version of himself.As a YouTube star, Troye Sivan’s teen years will live forever, but now he gets to define how he interacts with them.

 

Imagine that someone turned the tunnel scene from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ into a song, and there you have this track. “Rager teenager!” brilliantly captures the feeling of being young, feeling trapped, full of emotion and so desperately ready for and fearful of what is coming next.” (You can read more here.)

IN A DREAM

If the first tracks on the EP are about the experience of losing love and the middle portion is about processing, then the final and title track is the acceptance stage. “IN A DREAM” serves up some Jonas Brothers style pop with Lorde-levels of heartache.

 

Troye sings about getting onto a flight, smashing his phone and savoring the feeling of lifting off. There’s that slightly surreal sensation where your stomach seems to float for a split second before sinking, no matter how many times you’ve flown (it’s science, actually). In fact, Troye left Los Angeles, California and spent his time in isolation in Melbourne, Australia. Troye is ready to move onwards and away. 

 

The music moves quickly and bright in some places, shifting to a subtly more pained sound in certain parts, for emotional emphasis. Troye is forcing himself to finally stop allowing himself to be at the beck and call of his ex, reclaiming his time and life. Troye sings, “But I won’t let you in again…And there’s only so much I can give/I won’t let you in again/It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever said, you know.” The song is still directed at the ex, further emphasizing the power and influence he has on Troye. 

 

Moving onwards is the key goal, but even as Troye heads down the path of healing, that ex-boyfriend always seems to appear “in a dream.”

You can stream “In A Dream” everywhere now!

 

Feature image via Troye Sivan’s “In A Dream” album cover

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Helen Ehrlich is a writer who enjoys politics, music, all things literary, activism and charity work. She lives in the United States, where she attends school. Email her at: wyohelen@gmail.com

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