Troye Sivan's “In a Dream" — dancing through the pain

Gia Bao Huynh Tan
5 min readAug 20, 2020

The Australian singer granted us a dance party to light up the dark time.

If we take a look at the Billboard Top 40 these days, most charted songs share a common trait: they are famous from TikTok — the creative platform where teenagers dance or perform challenges to the snippets of those songs. Moreover, with the domination of hip-hop and rap music, we tend to find it easy to jam to the generic beats and words from self-proclaimed studs who cannot stop jabbering about women’s bodies, sex, and drugs. They are songs that we listen to when we are happy, or in the mood of partying, what about when we are sad and needs a dose of musical sympathy? What do we turn to? Ballads? Piano-driven melodies? Or Ed Sheeran’s tear-jerking acoustic tracks that repeat on and on without any grain of progress and creativity? What about sad songs but we can dance to?

Teenagers these days might enjoy the Top 40 songs but the tendency of relating to them mentally is not guaranteed as they do not have certain depth in meanings and storylines that capture emotional concepts. With Troye Sivan and his music from the first EP “TRXYE” then his debut album “Blue Neighbourhood”, the paroxysms in every beat and hook has become more progressive as he evolves in the music industry from a YouTuber making music to someone that we can call a trailblazer. Troye Sivan’s anguish was the theme for teenagers a couple of years ago to express their emotions on Tumblr, in an aesthetic way. He kicked off for later young queer artists such as Conan Gray, Ieuan, and Wrabel, etc. to express their sexuality through music with emo moments and celebrations of self-confidence through the blinds of heteronormative societies. With his new EP — “In a Dream”, Troye Sivan once again proved that he is a bright example in showcasing queerness musically and lyrically with experimental melodies, beat-driven moments, and unexpected twists that you can dance through the agony in these dark times.

The record starts with “Take Yourself Home”, one of the best tracks of early 2020, where Troye Sivan expresses vulnerability and mental deterioration formed by the life that he has created all by himself, and in the end, he tries to find freedom through crises. The dubstep-fused dance break in the outro is a significance of the track, reminds us of Troye Sivan in “Blue Neighbourhood” with cascading drops of “Fools” or “Wild”. “Take Yourself Home” brings us the closest image of Troye Sivan circa-2015 through the tinges of EDM and electropop. The second track “Easy” is a brilliant approach of sad songs as we can actually dance through the pain of a broken relationship. Troye Sivan puts the concept of melancholy as the theme but it does not mean that the melodies have to be stripped down, or acoustic-instruments-based. “Easy” is an 80s-nostalgic bedroom pop track with synths and computer-distorted vocals with the lyric as an apology note for the old flame because of his infidelity. The interlude “could cry just thinkin about you” with the deep and echoing vocal about longing for the past lover through every image, every person that he encounters: Every guy I want looks something just like you/Every book I read I only read for you/Every art piece is just to remind you”. The correlation of “Easy” and “could cry just thinkin about you” depicts that state of emotions in which we come to terms with love, break-up, and self. Troye Sivan manages to describe the story with honesty, making the expressions as immaculate as possible.

The emotions get more ecstatic with “STUD”, a standout track with a house-filled dance break, a pleading song in which he chases a lover that “got all the muscles and the features I want”. Through the dysfunctional relationship in the previous tracks, Troye Sivan wants to let loose of what has been driving and controlling his mentality by taking the active role in approaching a man. Lyrically, “STUD” creates reminiscence of happy-go-lucky and lustful tracks of his second album “Bloom”, moreover, his take on dance and house music makes this track a most-listened. “STUD” also criticizes the stereotype caused by internalized homophobia and toxic gay community where appearance is generously celebrated: “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?”.

The album stripped down for the last time with “Rager teenager!”, as Sivan described, a homage to his younger days. A moody yet dreamy song performing as a letter to self, as a celebration of youth and outrageous memories. The EP ends with the titled track “In a Dream”, a Bleachers-style with drums and synths about a heartbreak that he has to make the hardest decision to let that person go: “I don’t wanna let you in again/I’m gonna lock the doors, and hide my shit/’Cause my spirits wearin’ thin/And there’s only so much I can give/I don’t wanna let you in again”.

However, there is a lack of connection between tracks in “In a Dream”, as each one is a standout on its own, so when they are put together, it becomes a mixture of different genres and messages. The record pays the homage to younger Troye Sivan in his earlier EPs and debut album as listeners can exorcise their pain by dancing on the (home) dancefloor. This formula is seen throughout every track and has become a model for a future approach to sad songs. The difference between “In a Dream” and the previous records is not large as the EP enriches the significance of Troye Sivan’s discography with experimental elements, hypnotically-relatable lyrics, and stunning drops. “In a Dream” is a worth-listening EP in 2020 and a strong paddling base for Troye Sivan’s future creations.

Listen to Troye Sivan “In A Dream" now: