In interviews to promote ‘Something To Give Each Other’, his first album in five years, Troye Sivan has spoken about feeling more “relaxed” and “confident”. The 28-year-old singer, actor and former YouTuber also appears more playful and provocative: the album’s riotous lead single ‘Rush’ is named after a popular brand of poppers and has a steamy (and somewhat controversial) video that nods to cult queer film Beach Rats. Fans can even buy a limited edition vinyl album called the ‘Glory’ edition because it’s designed to look like a glory hole.
Sonically, ‘Rush’ isn’t quite an outlier here, but it’s definitely the album’s most ‘demon twink’ moment – to borrow a term that Queer Twitter loves to slap on the new, more sex-positive Sivan. An uptempo thumper with brazenly homoerotic backing vocals, ‘Rush’ sounds a bit like being caught between two rooms in a gay club: one spinning slinky ’90s house, the other blasting Village People deep cuts. Nothing else on the album feels as raucous, though second single ‘Got Me Started’ percolates with lust and a chunky sample from Australian dance duo Bag Raiders, and ‘Silly’ has a sort of Janet Jackson-in-Mykonos throb.
Elsewhere, the album is mostly midtempo, though with a slightly warmer, gauzier sonic palette than Sivan’s previous albums, 2016’s ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ and 2018’s ‘Bloom’. The bruised, woozy ballad ‘Still Got It’ sees Sivan realise he isn’t over the one that got away. “Saw you at a party, said hello like an old colleague,” he sings, capturing the awkwardness perfectly. ‘Got Me Back Baby’, a breakup song built around a dreamy sample from Jessica Pratt’s folk gem ‘Back Baby’, features the devastating pay-off: “It breaks my heart to say I can’t wait to live without you anymore.”
Most affecting of all is ‘One Of Your Girls’, a song about hooking up with a guy who hasn’t been with other guys before. “Say what you’ll want and I’ll keep it a secret,” Sivan sings over a French touch swirl studded with Charli XCX-esque spoken word bits. His collaborators here include AG Cook, who has worked with XCX, plus Dua Lipa producer Ian Kirkpatrick and queer pop alchemist Leland. Even when he’s not delivering a salty come-on – “I’m right on top of this groove, but God I wish it was you” is the album’s best – Sivan has never sounded more comfortable.
On the one hand, ‘Something To Give Each Other’ is the sound of a queer artist fully embracing his sexuality, something that can take a little longer when you belong to a marginalised group whose desires have often been discredited and demonised. On another, it’s an album that fully appreciates that life’s highs and lows are hopelessly intertwined, which only makes them more beguiling. And above all, it’s a strikingly vital pop album charged with love, lust, sweat and regret. You won’t need a bosh of poppers to feel thoroughly intoxicated.
- Release date: October 13, 2023
- Record label: EMI / Capitol