Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Troye Sivan – Happy Little Pill

Instead of making us better, you keep making us ill…


Katherine St Asaph: “Anhedonia is notoriously hard to portray without slipping back into hedonism; one misstep and you’re The Wolf of Wall Street pretending it doesn’t dig the idea of doing blow off a woman’s crack.” I wrote that about “Novacane” about two weeks ago, and here we are again, staring down another guy staring down an even bigger pile of good fortune. I want to resent “Happy Little Pill” on principle because I resent the A&R machines of the world promoting at talent and vibrancy’s expense every YouTube and/or Wolverine-starring white boy with a Boy Scout look and a vague R&B and/or acoustic bent, preferably both. (See also: Shawn Mendes. I know it’s what the public wants.) But damn if this emotive yuppie synthpop doesn’t work as well as it has for three decades; the problem is Sivan. Terse summary lyrics like “tight skin, bodyguards, cocaine, dollar bills” don’t read as quick-cuts or world-weary so much as unfamiliar abstractions, downplayed for the censors. And if you are singing about feeling exhausted or numb, you should sound exhausted or numb, or barring that manic. You should not sound like you’re singing scales for Jens Lekman’s vocal coach.

Scott Mildenhall: Bearing that midrange Bublétone that many a conventionally attractive X Factor hopeful has before being siphoned off into a boyband, Sivan is assured of and in the role of sentient droid. His whole EP is redolent of what Aiden Grimshaw was doing a couple of years ago, only with those seeming vocal limitations that both account and make up for the chorus’ inconspicuousness.

Anthony Easton: Lorde without the moral ambiguity — actually, one of the least ironic depictions of why drugs work, why he likes the drugs and the drugs like him, a swoony ode to the pleasures of easy capital, easy sex, and the right pharmaceuticals, with a perfect voice filled to the brim with helium light loucheness. 

Patrick St. Michel: He almost gets a good one in when he (I think) uses Gucci as a verb, but it’s not enough to make up for the raspberry of a theme here. If you embrace the blunted, skittery slo-mo sort of music, you better have something remotely interesting to say (or at least something that sounds good). This is boring “wake up sheeple” blather. 

Will Adams: The pill is Valium, apparently.

Brad Shoup: For a second, I thought we were in composed downtempo mode à la “Center of the Sun,” but nah, it’s some awful Frank Ocean attempt with seagull chirps and a haha-no-really anti-drug message. I don’t even drug and I’m offended.

Hazel Robinson: I am fascinated with the success of this and “Habits” in the UK chart — there was a point where there were about five songs in the top 20 that were about self-medicating yourself into insensibility to deal with life. Which feels like a fair assessment of the micro- and macro-emotional battery of 2014. And this is languid and sad, inelegant and naff and exhausted — it’s so self-consciously brattish about its need for anaesthetic it seems like the sort of juvenile effort that wouldn’t necessarily gain traction in a cynical nation. But then that glorious, obviously-this-is-why-it’s-done-so-well-in-the-UK “bollocks, bollocks, bollocks” dirge of a refrain. Cocaine and dollar bills are all very well, but if you want to hit the universal “there’s-something-in-my-eye” diaphragm-punch for this shitty little island you best believe there’s few things more effective than that.

Iain Mew: I can’t get over how much his voice reminds me of Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol. That doesn’t help me to buy any of the excess. Gary has been out of his mind on drink on drugs in song too, though, so maybe it’s more that the song sounds so thoroughly sterile and numbed there’s not enough room for any other sensation.

Juana Giaimo: Troye Sivan is updated on the latest hipster electropop music and that weird noise after the chorus as well as the distortion of his voice can clearly show it. He could make of it a melancholic song, with minimalistic lyrics about a lonely life of excess. Maybe if you forget that this is made by a 19 year old Youtube star, you can actually empathize with him. 

Crystal Leww: Troye Sivan sounds like he’s trying to imitate his favorite R&B singers, but this has absolutely no bite. Awwww, this is maybe the most pleasant lil song about drugs I’ve ever heard.

Reader average: [6.8] (5 votes)

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6 Responses to “Troye Sivan – Happy Little Pill”

  1. Maybe if you forget that this is made by a 19 year old Youtube star, you can actually empathize with him.

    Juana nailed why I could never get into this — I find it so un-believable on all fronts.

  2. I can’t believe I’m the only person to pick up on how great the bollocks bit is. You guys.

  3. i wish i had something worthwhile to say about this, it’s an [8] from me

  4. I was about to delete that last sentence because I thought it was too harsh. Still, I think it’s a good song, and I’m actually interested in listening to more music by him!

  5. juana, i’ve been listening to his EP for the past week or so and i like it! my personal favorite is “touch.”

  6. Wow, Josh, you’re totally right. I just finished listening to his EP and it’s great! Too bad they chose this song for a single, I think there are others that are a lot more interesting!