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Album Review: Troye Sivan 'Something To Give Each Other'
On his third LP, Troye Sivan hits his stride.
Despite a very brief run time of 32 minutes, Troye Sivan packs a lot of life into his third LP, Something To Give Each Other. He delivers detailed snapshots of /emphasizes experiences with lust, heartbreak, sex, insecurity, reflection, and self-love as he continues to navigate life as a 20-something gay man.
Something To Give Each Other overflows with excitement, sex, and heartbreak in ways that his previous albums haven’t. His 2015 debut Blue Neighbourhood was a vivid snapshot of an artist breaking through, and getting to say things he’s been yearning to get out. The follow up, 2018’s Bloom, also had strong moments and further established Troye as a contender to play in the major pop star arena. But the progress that further unfolds here is immense. Something To Give Each Other is a profoundly affecting masterwork of gay life that is at once deeply personal but simultaneously universal.
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Troye has mastered the art of dealing a devastating blow in a single line. “This is me you’re talking to, your only friend,” he opens on “Can’t Go Back, Baby,” which details his relationship’s collapse in the wake of infidelity. Troye weaves together the shock, deceit, pain, melancholy, forgiveness, and emergence of self-love in less than three and a half minutes while a perfectly placed sample reinforces the tortured experience.
The heartbreak doesn’t end there. On “Still Got It,” Troye grapples with what remains after a breakup. An encounter with his ex reminds him that the things he loved are still very much there, and he still has love for him, which is set to background vocals and a sparse organ-driven arrangement that recall Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Something To Give Each Other isn’t an album that focuses mainly on his breakup, but it’s certainly a gripping centerpiece. The other moments are no less mesmerizing. Troye comes alive on the songs that prefaced the album as singles. The house-y “Rush” is a not-so-subtle nod to a well-known brand of poppers of the same name. “Breathe; one, two, three, take all of me, so good,” he huffs on the hook, alluding to the process of taking a hit, loosening up (literally and figuratively), and getting lost in sex. It’s a potent description of the experience.
The much-memed “Shooting Stars” by Bag Raiders emphasizes the equally sexual second single “Got Me Started.” “I don’t think I can stop it, and I don’t wanna go home alone, alright?” he concedes to a guy he hits it off with at a party. It’s sexy and sensual in all the right ways, implying just enough to make the intent clear without saying it explicitly. “I miss usin’ my body” he sings, as he acknowledges their “hot chemistry” and declares his intent to “grip it tight” while giving him the green light to treat his body like the party and “fuck it up.” Steamy.
There’s an authenticity that emanates from Troye and his work. He’s constantly found ways to hone in on components of the gay experience that can seem isolated and unique. That authenticity fuels the album’s true tour de force, third single “One Of Your Girls.” It’s a brilliant examination of Troye shooting his shot with the “straight” guy he’s been hooking up with. “Everybody wants” this guy, but somehow Troye thinks he’s first in a line that wraps around the block. Rookie mistake. “Give me a call if you ever get lonely,” Troye offers before further undercutting his worth and revealing how deep in it he is, flipping the lyrics to “give me a call if you ever get desperate.” The vocal effects haunt the melody as the hook slowly unfurls and latches on, as tightly as the protagonist. He grasps for another moment of the guy’s attention with compliments, but overflows with desperation and insecurity as he pleads his case. The song brilliantly encapsulates this sorrow that so many of us know so intimately. As a result of our own insecurities and unrequited hopes for love, we shamelessly ravage and devalue ourselves emotionally for someone that can only give us a spec of what we dream of. And like fentanyl, that speck is sometimes lethal, but we don’t care. We have to have it. It’s a deadly, albeit euphoric high.
He brilliantly dons drag in the video as he attempts to land the straight boy in question (a perfectly cast, shirtless-for-the-whole-video Ross Lynch). His drag looks and choreography pay homage to early 2000’s pop imagery from the likes of Britney Spears and Shakira, while making a good case for leading a Taylor Swift drag revue.
Something To Give Each Other doesn’t have a bad moment. Whether he’s reverting to crushing during his teenage years on “In My Room,” giving some serious nods to the musical styles of Janet Jackson on the yearning, glittery “What’s The Time Where You Are,” or navigating post-hookup attachment on the bouncy “Silly,” Troye excels at his craft. Even as he grapples with an uncertain future on the album’s closer, “How To Stay With You,” he may be “a little bit fucked on this” and unsure of where things are headed, but he still comes off sure of himself in the moment. Troye has fully come into his own with Something To Give Each Other, finding all the right words to encapsulate the experiences that not only define him, but also the listeners who have come to love him, too.