Troye Sivan has withstood the test of time since his origins as a YouTuber in 2010, when he began posting song covers, experiential content and experimental challenges. The release of his first album in 2015, “Blue Neighborhood,” followed his coming-out on the internet two years prior. While Sivan was open enough at age 18 to sing about his struggles with dating someone of the same sex, his new album, “Something to Give Each Other,” invigorates his struggle with heartbreak while retaining his depth.
Sivan is able to divulge the vulnerable without letting the upbeat dance production rush the pace at which he wants to tell his story. While his commercially successful song “Rush” hones in on the experience of taking poppers (a party drug popular among gay men), the club-like production on this track and others on the album are the exorbitant release of Sivan’s emotions from his recovery after a breakup. Sivan’s partying phase at age 25 revealed to him how partying was “a religious and spiritual experience.” He shatters the misconception that partying at a club or enjoying club music is a shallow activity by channeling the “euphoria” from his experiences. He’s incredibly forthcoming about his depth yet only if the listener chooses to truly listen will that depth be heard.
In “What’s the Time Where You Are?” the beat drop happens as Sivan sings “you” in the first line of the chorus translating the spark that emerges when a crush addresses you and you alone. It’s a spark that transitions into the main instrumentals— one that gives you reason to spiral into the romance of such a question. All you would want to do is spin around whimsically in a club as you try to realize a fantasy with your crush. The titular question could be so easily Googled, but an answer from Sivan was more meaningful to the sender.
When Sivan ends the pre-chorus with, “Now the only thing I wanna know,” he’s not merely asking these questions and there’s not only one thing he wants to know. Rather he’s professing these curiosities to express his longing, his hope to develop a connection that transcends distance, an “international through line to [his] heart.” Sivan is also persistent in how physical connection is inseparable from that emotional connection in the lines “This beat is makin' me move (Move) / But, God, I wish it was you (You).” It’s undeniably important for him, as he reiterates it throughout the album.
“Got Me Started” samples “Shooting Stars” by the Bag Raiders so brilliantly, that you’ll forget its 2017 introduction as a meme after enough listens. The charismatic choreography, a necessary component to Sivan’s launch of his two singles, helps pop return to its 2000s roots. Alongside artists like Victoria Monet and Jungle, Sivan incorporates dance so that people become naturally inclined to move.
These liberating experiences from partying for Sivan don’t stop him from stripping down to a lighter, slower, more somber dance production which feels more suitable for being in your bag, if it was doused in glitter.
“Honey” immediately absorbs you into that feeling: you’re comfortable enough with someone to be unapologetic in your transparency about everything you feel and believe. It’s to the effect that you “give me the courage to say all the shit I mean.” The track imparts this wisdom about fulfilling the potential spontaneity of each moment when you connect with people, spaces and things. It’s spontaneity worth pursuing with full sincerity.
“How to Stay With You” feels like you’re biking through the iridescent outskirts of Sivan’s “Blue Neighborhood.” In his first album, the track “Talk Me Down” similarly grapples with how the desire of wanting to be with someone can leave you immobilized. But in “How to Stay With You,” the closing track is about precipitating movement out of such a state.
The contrast in language is especially indicative of his maturation over the last seven years. In “Talk Me Down,” he’s definitive about his desire by using total words like “all,” “want,” and “know” in the lines “I wanna sleep next to you / But that’s all I wanna do right now.” In the recent track, though, he embraces the uncertainty from such a desire, understanding that it might not be fulfilled with lines like “I’m a little bit lost on how to stay with you / Starting again when I got all I wanted.” Sivan acknowledges that he’s not hesitant to move out of such a state even if the direction he chooses to go in seems unclear.
In 2015, Sivan imagined what it would mean to depart from the small, “Blue Neighborhood” he grew up in, and in 2023, he’s carved one out for himself.
Tenzin Wodhean is an arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org