Troye Sivan Dances Through Lube, Sweat, and Tears on Comeback Album “Something To Give Each Other” — In Depth Review
There’s two types of people that exist on the internet — those who have a visceral reaction to the mere mention of “Blue Neighbourhood” or those who are the reason the TikTok search suggestion ‘troye sivan industry plant’ exists. As someone who vividly remembers plugging my wired earbuds in and playing his debut single “Happy Little Pill” on repeat to calm myself down from a panic attack at age 13, I am clearly the former.
It’s important to note for the freshly released album, that Troye Sivan’s musical identity is at its core, pure pop music that envelopes his vulnerable gay experiences. There is not a single, EP, or album he has released that ignores what built the base of his platform, and this new album is the gorgeous developed culmination of his musical journey that feels like a momentous announcement and celebration of a dazzling rebirth.
Something To Give Each Other is a continuous surge of modern synthy, dance-pop inspired tracks that has joy bursting at its LED neon light-colored seams. Keep in mind, by the word ‘joy’, I don’t mean plainly happy, but the inclusive privileged feeling of bliss from euphoric sexual desire to melancholic lingering love. Troye has removed any conditions of love and through this album, he delightfully chooses to revel in life’s messy incidents head first and shares his found freedom from surrendering to community and discovering the sheer beauty in recognizing that everybody has ‘something to give each other’.
All the pandemonium for this album began with the buzzing lead single “Rush”.
There could not have been a more perfect domino to set in motion the hype for the forthcoming album. The momentum from the first short catchy snippets of the single, the climactic release of the sexy 2000s-pop style music video, to the virality of a clip of the addictive choreo was an attentive steady stream so many artists dream of capturing.
The trademark of “Rush” is the captivating chant of the chorus: “I feel the rush, addicted to your touch / Oh, I feel the rush” by a crowd of raving lads. The energy of this track is straight pumping with a hint of a sensuality; the audio embodiment of dancing in a packed, sweaty sea of bodies. There is this sort of shuffled bongo percussive beat that is used to introduce this casual, carefree vibe, with a hi-hat, later appearing snare, and steady kick drum to tease the forthcoming club-ready sound. The subtly panned slapped snare drum fill that breaks up the rhythm after small sections is a really nice detail to help not deplete the more boisterous percussion. More electronic elements enter their way through with the first verse adding a foundational low cruising bassline and the reverberating vocal production. Short strokes of synth, spare snaps, and a swell settles the beat before we drum fill into the chorus. The familiar main rhythm is still present, but the new dancing synth chords bring more jubilant life, along with the signature chant and spouts in between of Troye declaring “it’s so good, it’s so good”. The post-chorus leans into the hedonistic sensuality with the exaggerated sidechained and layered vocal production. The bassline is ever so slightly buzzier in the second verse with more emphasizing wispy background vocals. The second pre-chorus has a bolder build up with some compressed chops and vocal echoes. A few ad-libs are dashed onto the now final chorus until the outro takes us out with the instrumental, a heavily vocal chopped line, with it all compressed down to close.
“Rush” is a song of its word — a heart-beating, arousing party rush of a song. The tantalizing music video perfectly reflects the indulgence in endless pleasure and the acute choreography sprinkled in is a shiny bow on top of every great aspect of the track.
Bridging the gap between the two singles is the long distance pining, house-inspired track titled “What’s The Time Where You Are?”. The concise intro is surprisingly tender with a soft “God, I wish it was you” and piano notes before it takes us into the principal low and compressed house bass. Some thin snares and hi-hat are there to help out the rhythm, but the bassline is the main driving force of it all. Synth pads subtly come in towards the pre-chorus to add warmth, and the tenderness of that piano ends up weaving carefully amongst the, in comparison, gaudier house beat throughout.
The chorus serves us the familiar beat with the new vocal melody of the relaxed chorus and some light background vocals to fill out the space, but the second half of it features lines of ascending piano keys and infused synth pads into the production to add an fine, almost subconscious overall brightness and loveliness. The second verse embraces that touching mood a bit more as it starts off entirely with that delicate piano until the bassline and compressed kick slowly joins back in, with some cool textured vocal ad libs tossed in between. A shimmering synth links the tail end of that section of a pre-chorus quick pause and the second chorus which now is more steeped into the tenderheartedness of the synths and piano, and of course, some flyaway sweet background vocals. After the chorus is seemingly an instrumental focused outro to let the liveliness naturally end the track, until it slows down back to Troye’s voice and the piano, leaving a similar tenderness like it began.
A few times throughout the song are interjections of nameless people vaguely expressing how ‘last night was fucking crazy’ (in English and Spanish), as a way to set the scene of a group of friends chasing that party high. Troye on this song emphasizes the worldly connections formed simply by looking for a good time; whether through in person traveling or international texts, the track does a great job in presenting the underlying beauty in forming unlikely connections, even due to something as cursory as spending a short night together.
“One Of Your Girls” became the single that dropped simultaneously with the album release, complete with another astonishing music video.
While this track is undoubtedly in vein with the sonic sound of the overall album, in particular, this is the only one that has this sheer breeziness; it’s what also makes it so pleasing to hear over and over again.
A feminine-sounding hum acts as a blanket for everything else in the track to lay down with ease. A simple soft percussion and smooth bassline starts us off, with some rumblings of compressed twinges and a few oscillations of synth to tell us there’s more up ahead.
The pre-chorus adds more delicate prettiness with the light and fresh acoustic guitar alongside cheeky and charming flirting so gently spoken. This section is so addicting and maybe one of the best moments on the album for me. Not to mention, that *ding* sound effect on the “Face card, no cash, no credit” lyric is a wonderful little touch.
A brief drum transition takes us to the golden treasure of the whole song — the chorus; a section doused in vocoder, with almost forlorn calls for a chance with this adored person of interest, that the narrator knows is a type of forbidden. An 80s reminiscent synth also naturally sneaks its way in through the chorus, building up the electronic elements.
The vocal production work all over this album is excellently crafted, but here, it makes the song what it is. While the use of the vocoder (basically, synthesizing his voice) is purposely in your face, you can hear the vocal layer underneath peaking through, which is closer to Troye’s natural voice. This is such a great technique to reflect the song’s emotion — the narrator feels the need to change/cover up himself to gain the affection of the other; to be specific, written in mind to reflect the distinct gay experience of the messiness the game of desire can be when attempting to work around conflicting identities, i.e., a straight man. The distorting vocoder is the mask for his voice, with his true self mimicking the same lyrics as a sentiment to it being a true desire.
The second verse adds in a more natural, hollow set of percussion. The production continues to play around, for instance, with the interrupting vocoded adlib, the hum turned into light background vocals, a compact synth lick, and panning on the word ‘look’. The sole hums, acoustic guitar, and Troye’s careful spoken voice right before the drum fill into the chorus again is an excellent gentle moment before the raw emotion of the chorus, affirming the vulnerability of it.
A hint of a new darting synth line is pretty hidden in the mix in the final chorus, but the outro lets it fly as the song fully ends deep into its electro-popness.
It’s a stunning song from all angles, and the music video released for it could not be a more perfect match for it. While it’s the simplest of the three music videos released so far, it’s by far my favorite of the collection. I will leave you with the delight if you have yet to watch it, but — just please do.
The subdued puppy love track “In My Room” features Spanish artist Guitarricadelafuente, and is the only feature on the album. It’s rather a duet, as the featured artist sings about half the song in Spanish — which I actually really enjoy. I like when a song is a proper collaboration with distinct notes from each artist and a mix of languages on one track is another perk.
The best way to describe this song is as a smooth cup of foamy, milky coffee. Both Troye and Guitarricadelafuente have velvety vocal tones, and that quality is put to use for this silky track.
The fluid bassline and simple percussion is a holdover from the whole album, but the main reason for the song’s warm silkiness is the flush of the soft strings. The fluttering synth sprinkles beautifully accompany it to give a little more pop of sonic texture. The percussion also does a lot to chill us out by being reminiscent of lo-fi hip hop beats.
It’s undeniably an easy, smooth listen the whole way through in a way that plays like butter. I do enjoy the relaxed vibe it gives, especially in juxtaposition to the dancier tracks, but the lack of dynamics makes it not an absolute favorite of mine. Although, it’s still a solid one I can see being a lot of other people’s favorite.
With the following back-to-back tracks “Still Got It” and “Can’t Go Back, Baby”, here is where we pivot to the real emotional meat of the album.
While the vast majority of the album is about the flying sparks of love, lust, and infatuation, it takes a step back for a moment to reflect on the haunts of a past relationship.
With every song so far focusing on the active process of falling in love, “Still Got It” as a title almost acts as a juxtaposition in itself; the listener might be expecting the context of the phrase to be something like — ‘I still have my charm’ rather than what it really turns out to be.
The narrator tells the story of warily reconnecting with a past lover and acknowledging the distance between their lives now, but not without feeling the complication of being briefly entangled again, having the unfortunate realization of lingering romantic feelings that wash over you.
The production for the most part here is very straightforward so that the storytelling of the lyrics shine. Organ-like synth pad chords are the foundation, with some layered reverbed background vocals to help fill the space and a noticeable lack of percussion. It feels as if we’re in a dark and empty bathroom, with the synth pad and vocal harmonies as the streaming hot water cascading over our head, just standing there in the shower as the emotional realization sets in.
A few synth taps takes us to the second verse, starting with a low resounding pad with faint fluctuations underneath. The organ-like synth comes back in and then, with static fuzz, transitions to a filtered strummed rhythmic acoustic guitar.
The second chorus bonds the two, with the rhythmic strumming felt underneath the main synth pad. A low-fi quality, slightly fuzzy saxophone lick separates the chorus with the prominent vocal harmonies to (seemingly) close out the track with a lyric switch up to finish with a few taps and elongated quietness. That is, until it’s disturbed by low drum hits into a dreamlike state turned into a nightmare as the smooth instrumental breaks down into a glitchy finale.
The wistful “Can’t Go Back, Baby” was an instant favorite. While similar to the aforementioned track “Still Got It” with the somber mood and personal storytelling of utter vulnerability, this song edges out the other for me. I love everything about the way the story unravels with the melancholic yet still comforting production that takes me through the full peaks and valleys of the journey of acceptance and the relief that follows after facing it. It submerges me in the exact moment where he is — in a lonely hotel room, eyes closed, laying flat on the bed as these thoughts weigh on his heart.
To be frank, while Troye’s main appeal is not his songwriting, I believe this song to be some of his best writing. The first verse in particular, but also the pre-choruses are excellent with its visual imagery. It so smoothly begins describing the incident where the relationship first began to rot, then unfurls to reveal the guilt, regret, and coldness inside that has generated ever since. The fact that it doesn’t really paint the narrator in a good light is also a rawness I really appreciate, and adds another layer of tragedy to the whole sensitive situation.
It begins with a crackly tape rewind, introducing melancholic piano chords and a sample from the song “Back, Baby” by Jessica Pratt, in which the phrase she sings is Sivan’s song title. As he begins singing his lines, a mellow oscillating synth pad cushions in the back and a set of keys in succession finishes the melody for the intro.
The song continues to gently build with light compact claps and kick drums, plus a faint light arpeggiated synth pattern in the first verse. The chorus adds more bounce to the percussion and the synth pad becomes more foreboding. The alternating vocal lines here featuring the main sample and Troye acts as a satisfying call and response, as if the narrator has this song stuck in his head and lets it begin and finish the flow of his thoughts. The second verse opens with the mere electronic pad and his voice dripped in reverb, before bringing that bouncy but chill percussion and piano back in. The background pad noticeably swells up, adding emotional tension in the second pre chorus. The final chorus has Troye’s voice the most electronic it’s been, as if a sort of numbing to the situation. The ending pitters out into a dreamy descent, with encompassing pads, stray keys, robotic glitchy talking, and electronic filtered lulling ‘la la la’s mimicking parts of the sample in the song.
The second pre-released single “Got Me Started” is the contemporary earworm that no matter how many times I loop it, I never stop craving for it. It might genuinely be one of my favorite songs of the year, as my enjoyment of it has not wavered from the high pedestal I’ve placed it on from first listen.
This track was a great complement to follow up the big lead single “Rush”. It keeps that same uptempo dance-pop sound and lust-driven appetite, but now at a slightly more sensual angle and a key infamous sampled riff.
The famed sample comes from the Australian dance track “Shooting Stars” by Bag Raiders. While the song is well-appreciated for what it is in its home country, its international reputation is — a slightly different story. What myself and many others first heard when that signature synth melody played was the music behind countless asinine memes from years ago.
While I can’t be fully sure whether the intention behind the sample was from pure enjoyment, the humor of it, or both — the preconceived humor it naturally triggers does remind me of something Troye shared on the podcast High Low with EmRata; he talks with the host about finding the act of sex ‘inherently hilarious’. Intentional or not, I think the eccentricness charmingly ties along with the theme of celebrating the joy in ‘unprofound’ sex that is loud on this album.
Clear from the title itself, “Got Me Started” portrays a reawakening of love in your body and soul again. This first spark to light up a cold heart again leads to both feelings of permeating warmth and excitement, which I’m sure is why this song sonically works so well. The whole track is veiled in a pleasant sense of ease with a fair amount of sonic embellishments to stimulate and mimic the stirring passion.
The sample assists in the overall buoyant feeling, but is also essential to the track’s sonic structure. It’s the main melody of post-chorus instrumental drop (alone, then with mimicking filtered vocals) and also tossed in at the intro and bridge. The song immediately opens with the clean synth sample, along with an elongated reverb ‘ooh’ and more background sounds of vague and nameless excited people to establish us back into the party mood.
The stable mellow synth pad is the primary player in the production that steeps the comforting aura in the whole song. The verses and pre-chorus rests on that pad while the percussion is a very unobtrusive shuffled beat with hollow teardrops of synth to help guide it. The chorus softly comes in with a few claps and whispered “let’s go”. The main pitched-up, filtered vocals and introduction of a sleek electronic bass line are the establishing production differences, while the other elements stay in the same lane. For my perspective, the filtered vocals somehow make the chorus melody feel even catchier, especially when the post-chorus drops with the high-toned already sticky sample and his voice is synthesized to be even higher frequency to mimic the synth. That building of ascension in frequency is the ever so satisfying cherry on top of an already satisfying pop refrain.
The second verse and pre-chorus develops with added harmonies, subtle sparkling glints, and more hi-hat emphasis. Compressed kicks and a small glitch takes us to the prized chorus, bringing in the accentuated hi-hat with a new layer of autotuned vocal harmonies. A shimmer transitions us to the post-chorus drop with an added, sort of ominous, descending background ‘ooh’. The bridge recreates the pre-chorus with a thinner synth pad before the instrumental break and final chorus culminates with a bumping compressed bass drum. He calls out the album title a few times, as it echoes out to end the song.
“Silly” is definitely the most club-ready track with an emphasis on a slightly more deviant stylistic production, simply in comparison for this album. The overall production itself is fainly understated, yet the rather fluid structure of the song and a full palette collection of vocal styles on display creates its own specific flavor.
A few taps of synth open us to this specific high-toned, forceful falsetto breathiness to Sivan’s voice that is notably very forward in the distant setting of a spacey synth pad, rolling tape-like fx, and compressed claps. The first verse fully starts when his voice is squeezed even tighter and the indispensable deep synth bass line and compact kick drum combination breaks in. The percussion smoothly picks up from the mere kick and shaker to a clankier pattern through the verse — that is until the end of the last line that cuts off to this sudden elongated break before the chorus.
A floating wash of synth softly swirls us into this dream-like section with gentle thumping of the soft-edged kick, spacey pad and specks of synth, and clicks. A whining synth oscillates louder to bring up some tension to the chorus, which has a familiar sonic scene to the verse. The first half of the chorus is that same whispery acute tone with light glitchiness and echoing, panned sputters. Then just with an adlib, Troye’s voice smoothly transitions to a more natural chest tone with a relaxed cadence. There’s a few moments here where some instruments drop out to change up the texture, like playful interjections of solo bass moments under his voice and the continued percussion, pad, and some effects used to transition to the next verse.
The second verse here plays with texture heavily focusing on the vocals now, with a compressing vocal filter and whispered adlibs underneath and complimenting harmonies on top. An out-of-the-blue light autotune and reverb heavy vocal line comes in to introduce this calmed down section and new melody that does a sufficient job of gently building up to the chorus again. The ending of the chorus leads to a mysterious instrumental bridge with a muted, almost Middle-Eastern inspired plucked riff at the center of the continued percussion, wafting pad, and spare whistles. That riff gets incorporated into the underside of the small final chorus that devolves into the outro. The vocals become more choppy and dims with the bass line closing it out.
This song really grew on me layer by layer. At first listen I was thinking it was a fun, danceable filler track. I grew to further adore the little quirks in the production with each listen, but it wasn’t until I bothered to actually look up the lyrics (as the fuzzy vocal production makes it easy to overlook specific lyrics) that it secured itself to me as more than just a good filler, but a solid track.
On the surface, it seems like another lust-filled fun hook-up dance track — which of course doesn’t make it a bad song, but I thought that at this far into the album it was feeling a little redundant, regardless of still enjoying the sonic production. But uncovering the meaning and context brought a lot of life to this song in my eyes.
On this track, it’s a continuation of what was left from the vulnerable post-break up “Still Got It” and “Can’t Go Back, Baby”. As the narrator is emotionally pulled back into this decayed love, he now attempts to transcend out of those feelings by throwing himself into mindless parties. It’s clear looking at the entire lyrics in this song, but the couplet: “I still love you more than I should say / I’m just tryna put that all away” sums it up well. Going back and listening to the song knowing this context noticeably adds a layer of enjoyment with how well it also sonically plays with the theme of escapism.
Although, I can’t help but feel that the tracklist placement here of “Silly” being right after “Got Me Started” rather than the aforementioned emotional duo of “Still Got It” and “Can’t Go Back, Baby” played a significant detriment to the flow of the storytelling. I, personally, would switch the placement of “Silly” before “Got Me Started”, to show a dwindling end through attempted escapism to a fresh start.
Now towards the end of the album, the last two tracks “Honey” and “How To Stay With You” are sadly the ones that I find toughest to connect to. They’re nothing horrendous, but they’re sonically the blandest of the album and the narrative it tries to close out feels already fully realized to the point where it’s now excessive to drag it on.
While “Honey” does have a sweetness to it, it’s still rather tame and vapid in a way that I spend most of my listening time wishing it was done and over with.
Troye sings about the overarching theme of beauty found in large landscapes and precious spontaneous encounters with a sureness to his heavy reverb vocals — summed up by the lines that are really seminal of the album: “I see love in every space / I see sex in every city, every town”.
The consistent backdrop of a layered vocal echo chamber and the harmonic layers on top of the main vocal line do a lot of heavy lifting for the amiability of the track’s identity. An acoustic guitar lick that’s used to transition and sprinkled in the back of some sections also attempts to add to it, but doesn’t contribute much to anything. The dull melodies and rhythm here is what really bogs down the track for me. The chorus is the worst culprit — just monotonous with a questionable squeaky synth drop, then later added vocal shops both reminiscent of a 2010s EDM track.
The closing track “How To Stay With You” is more palatable than the aforementioned, but still kind of weak for such an admirable album. It’s more so that the mid tempo pace, mild vocal melodies and production just add up to a lukewarm track.
In the pursuit of rounding out this album, it pivots to a peacefulness with the central resonant wah guitar and casual saxophone licks that comes in halfway through the song. A full bodied electronic bass line carries a groovy rhythm accompanied by simple drum hits. While those elements make up most of the mood, the song begins with some cryptic squeaky synth lines that devolve into stray yelps deep in the instrumental. The song quickly closes out from the last chorus into a saxophone solo bridge that continues on to a fading outro.
“How To Stay With You” recognizes the founding principle of the album — reveling in love to be found everywhere in every human moment — and stands in it. Although, in this particular song, it reveals the disheartening aftermath of those passionate encounters — as he best puts it: “Startin’ again when I got all I wanted / Startin’ to feel a little bit despondent”. While he tries to make peace with the love that did occur, creeping gloominess is bound to appear in goodbyes.
Pop music has long been a safe-haven for the gay community. The fight for pop icon to be honored by the gays is customarily a straight woman’s game to win, but, there are a number of growing, shining voices for gays in pop music. I believe Troye Sivan has always been such an important pop artist that will only grow in impact and recognition from the moment he first released music, and years later I am being proven right. All of his music, but especially Something To Give Each Other allows for gays to enjoy music made candidly based upon their experiences and when presented with a robust representation of you, suddenly a craving for a more personalized depth you didn’t realize you had starts to get filled. At the same time, others get to explore an impassioned journey, and absolutely anyone can connect to the emotional human affairs all over this body of work.
In conclusion, Troye Sivan’s third album “Something To Give Each Other” is a solid, thoughtful pop project that exuberates what pop music does best — truthful joy, but through the lens of a gay man’s own rebrith, an adult coming-of-age sequel.
“Rush” — 10/10
“What’s The Time Where You Are?” — 8/10
“One Of Your Girls” — 10/10
“In My Room (feat. Guitarricadelafuente)” — 7/10
“Still Got It” — 8.5/10
“Can’t Go Back, Baby” — 10/10
“Got Me Started” — 10/10
“Silly” — 8.5/10
“Honey” — 5.5/10
“How To Stay With You” — 6/10
Album Rating: 4/5