Troye Sivan has been so busy between his acting and branding alter egos that it would be understandable to forget that his last studio album came out in 2018, practically a lifetime ago for a gay pop ingenue still in his twenties. From the sporadic recordings he did in the interim, it was hard to guess at what shape his next full album might take.
Sivan, it turns out, has been doing a lot of living and growing in the intervening years — a whole album’s worth, in fact.
Something to Give Each Other picks up where he left off on his lovestruck, starry-eyed sophomore album Bloom, finding him a little grown-up and in a more complicated frame of mind around love and relationships and everything it means to be attached to another person.
His ubiquitous single “Rush” and its follow up, “Got Me Started” — not to mention the charged, suggestively hedonistic imagery surrounding their releases — might well have led you to believe this would be a record full of similar high-energy dance tracks.
But what we get instead is a relatively mellow assortment of tracks that show us a more nuanced and layered side than he let onto in his previous work.
In technical terms Sivan is on top of his game, delivering his vulnerable musings with silky smooth vocals in a moody synth-pop package full of subtle, well-crafted production flourishes. As a result, Something to Give Each Other features plenty of memorable and satisfying moments.
One standout, “Silly,” feels like the most open and honest Sivan has ever been on a single track, even in an album full of confessionals, switching in and out of soft falsetto over pulsing synths as he recounts poor romantic choices.
He gets even deeper on “Still Got It,” recounting an unexpected public encounter with an ex and all the attendant messy feelings and bad choices, lent a certain gravity by chorals and soaring organ that add more emotional heft.
Leaning hard into that moody, mellow vibe does pay off well in its best moments, but Sivan pulls it off better in some songs than others. The deja vu starts to set in by the middle of the album, as he muses on the passage of time and reminisces about an ex in “Can’t Go Back, Baby.”
The album lags the most in moments like these, when that vibe begins to feel repetitive and even sleepy. Despite a fun sax solo, his closer, “How to Stay With You,” goes in hard on nostalgia for the good times spent with a former lover. By the end of the record, it’s hard not to get the feeling that we’ve heard all this before.
Something‘s three singles are more memorable for the life they have taken on outside the album than their quality in isolation. Sivan is not the first gay pop star to overtly reference poppers in a song, but that the song is still being played and talked about months after its release is a pretty good indication something about his unabashed tribute to them has resonated.
Although “Got Me Started” was somewhat eclipsed by the eyewatering success of “Rush,” the Bag Raiders sample is brilliant and its video is excellent in its own right.
“One of Your Girls,” inspired by his encounters with curious straight men looking to experiment, is less notable for the laid-back groove it shares with most of the other tracks than it is for its accompanying video.
Released late last week, it features Sivan appearing in drag, projecting an easy confidence and sensuality in his drag persona that underscores the song’s fixation on sexuality and desire, complicating the hopeful insecurity behind the lyrics.
What emerges from Something to Give Each Other is an artist with a newly discovered (or at least newly admitted) appreciation for the complexities of romance. Sivan is rarely overtly autobiographical, but these songs all carry his personal touch and feel intimate.
After a northern hemisphere summer dominated by high-energy dancepop bangers (in which his own single featured prominently), Something to Give Each Other feels like a mellow comedown with a friend we are just beginning to get to know.
Something to Give Each Other (★★★☆☆) is currently available to stream and purchase on all major platforms. Visit www.troyesivan.com.
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