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'Something To Give Each Other': Troye Sivan Has Still Got It

Photo by Ted Eytan (Under License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

Troye Sivan has his finger on the pulse. First, his Melbourne home was immortalised in the pages of Architectural Digest. Then, fragrances from his label Tsu Lange Yor found their way from the streets of Carlton to the shelves of Dover Street Market, Paris. While visiting the city, he also stormed the runway for Miu Miu’s SS24 show. Now, Sivan has chronicled the euphoric nights and lonesome days of a heartbroken, hopeful 20-something on this third LP. It seems we’re all addicted to his touch.

Something to Give Each Other, as Sivan told Jimmy Fallon, sees the singer “excited at the possibilities of life”, on a journey of self-love and rediscovery. His ode to connection, intimacy and anonymity – he describes “encounters” lasting only “a few hours” – started as “more of an ambition” during the pandemic and flourished as he (and the rest of the world) reawakened after being “really sad for a long time”. With such a bold mission statement for his new project, the Australian singer had his work cut out for him. But over ten songs, he rises to the occasion, firing off heavy-hitting pop tracks and introspective ballads, all while having a great time.

Sivan’s newfound exuberance is instantly recognisable from the propulsive chant that kicks off the album on ‘Rush’, an anthemic club-banger that recounts a brazen encounter with a nameless lover. In the music video, Sivan rejoices, liberated at a dingy party, delivering choreography and gazing lustfully in a pair of leather chaps. It seems this hedonistic partier has wandered far from the suburbia he lamented over on Blue Neighbourhood.

Other tracks show a less lewd, more smitten Sivan. On ‘What’s the Time Where You Are?’, he is overwhelmed by incessant thoughts of a new crush who has an “international through line to [his] heart”. The groovy track encapsulates the anxiety-riddled experience of falling for someone, with all its uncertainty and anticipation. It’s a feeling he explores again on ‘In My Room’, featuring Guitarricadelafuente. “I’m all alone in my room / I’m just thinking ‘bout you / It’s a feeling I can’t describe” .

Although Sivan delivers a mature sound on his third LP, he proves new love reduces even pop stars to teenagers again.

Other tracks, such as ‘One of Your Girls’, verify that Sivan is no expert at love. Here, he pleads to a man, whose sexuality is ambiguous, “Give me a call if you ever get desperate / I’ll be like one of your girls”.

As Conan Gray did on ‘Wish You Were Sober’, Sivan reflects on the queer experience, which all too often involves falling for someone with little chance of reciprocity, with an openness that is sure to resonate. The desperation of his appeals is palpable even through the vocoder that saturates the chorus with a sensual haziness. Such audacious vulnerability, which emanates through the entire album, gives listeners a privileged view of his innermost thoughts.

Sivan wrote Something to Give Each Other over an extended period after his 2019 break-up. On his last project, 2020’s EP In a Dream, he mourned his lost love on dreamy tracks like ‘Easy’ and ‘could cry just thinkin about you’. On this new project, time has allowed for processing and healing.

This is unmistakable on slow burner ‘Can’t Go Back, Baby’, which begins as a lachrymose recount of a break-up with an adulterous partner and transitions into a sanguine self-love anthem. “In the morning, yeah, I wake up / With the sun across my face” – the artist delivers the melancholic sound we came to love on Bloom and In a Dream with newfound wisdom and fortitude. However, the song lacks the potency of the track which precedes it – also the album’s best ballad. ‘Still Got It’, with its billowing organ and forceful lyricism, shows diehard fans that Sivan is still the prince of sad pop.

After the album’s most glum tracks, ‘Got Me Started’ comes out swinging as the exhilarating light at the end of a seemingly never-ending tunnel. The sample from Bag Raiders’ ‘Shooting Stars’ could have easily come across incessant. But here, it luxuriates in a modern two-step beat and silky synths.

In the second single’s music video, Sivan is riotous in the streets of Bangkok, decked out in Gucci regalia and Ludovic de Saint Sernin crystals. As in the ‘Rush’ music video, he leans heavily into choreography – here sexually charged and energetic – with help from choreographers Sergio Reis and Mauro Van De Kerkhof.

Sivan rides this high until the album’s close. ‘Silly’ captures a commitment to ‘doing it for the plot’ on a wild night out. “One, two, three, I’m a love junkie like that / I’m so silly like that” – here, Sivan is liberated and unserious. On ‘Honey’, it seems he has found someone to be more than just silly with, despite not yet knowing that person’s name. While its thrilling chorus is filled with synthesised, buttery vocals, the track is bogged down by its slightly lethargic verses and pre-chorus. Is this the same lover that he hopes to set up shop with in the album’s closer, ‘How To Stay With You?’ Perhaps, but it seems he doesn’t care too much either way – he has proved life as a self-indulgent singleton can be just as fun as a long-term relationship.

Every track on Something to Give Each Other is a unique celebration of one of the emotions on life’s smorgasbord. What lends it such cohesion is Sivan’s receptiveness to each and every one of them. True to his proclamation on ‘Honey’, he really does “see love in every space”. And in these times, we’d all be better off if we followed suit and tried to do the same.

Edited by Lucy Blackmur, Music Editor

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