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Music Review

Troye Sivan leaps from virtual to reality at Sinclair

Troye Sivan offered a preview of his new album at Monday’s show.Ben Stas for The Boston Globe

CAMBRIDGE — Several hours before Troye Sivan arrived, his fans were already lining up outside the Sinclair on Monday. Once inside, they hoisted paper heart cutouts and handmade signs bearing the nickname only Sivan’s family uses. They hijacked choruses and sang louder than the man who wrote them and chanted “Troye! Troye! Troye!” before and after he was onstage.

Wait. Who?

Sivan, a South African-born singer and actor who was raised in Australia, is the newest form of pop star. While still a baby-faced teen with Bieber-esque hair, he amassed a fervent online following through an endless parade of YouTube videos, chronicling his adventures and crooning a mix of covers and originals. By the time he signed to a major label, he was well on his way to stardom.


At the Sinclair, with simply a drummer on his right and a keyboard player to his left, it was apparent the 20-year-old musician will be playing larger rooms and to bigger crowds sooner rather than later. It’s hard not to root for a self-made star. And it helps that Sivan’s music, a hyper-stylized amalgam of ambient R&B and seductive electronic pop, is en vogue at the moment courtesy of Tinashe, Halsey, Lorde, and even Nick Jonas.

“So kiss me on the mouth and set me free/ But please don’t bite,” Sivan sang on “Bite,” prompting a swell of teen screams that made the shy singer blush, even though he’s used to it.

It was curious — and, frankly, refreshing — to witness such effusive female fans pining for an artist they must know is openly gay. But perhaps romantic desire has very little to do with Sivan’s success; his admirers seem proud of the way he has ascended, presumably on his own terms, which he admitted during the show has always been his goal.


Sivan will release his full-length debut, “Blue Neighbourhood,” in early December, but Monday night offered a preview. As a songwriter, he has a penchant for documenting disillusion. On “Happy Little Pill,” he sang of loneliness and the ways we combat it: “My happy little pill/ Take me away/ Dry my eyes/ Bring color to my skies.”

He already has an arsenal of radio-friendly ballads with the perfect hint of sexual healing, too. “’Cause when you look like that/ I’ve never ever wanted to be so bad/ It drives me wild/ You’re driving me wild,” he sang on “Wild,” his voice low and slow.

Sivan kept the performance brisk — just 40 minutes — but that was enough to suggest his fame is on the verge of making the leap from online to real life.


At The Sinclair, Monday

James Reed can be reached at james.reed@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJamesReed.