Love is patient, love is kind, love is messy and love can sometimes really fuck you up. On his confessional third studio album, Something to Give Each Other, Troye Sivan explores all the ways that love can be shared — and taken away — while offering a buoyant rallying cry for the brokenhearted.
An ode to queerness and reinvention, Something is a pristine slice of pop heaven underscored by hints of longing and sadness. Sivan has spoken at length about how he struggled in the aftermath of a bad breakup, but on his new album, the Australian singer turns his heartbreak into healing on the dance floor, drawing from synth-pop, house music and Nineties-esque club cuts. It’s a ten-track anthology that perfectly captures the deeply-felt exhilaration of love — and lust — lost.
The album opens with “Rush,” the sweaty, high-octane dance floor anthem that’s amassed more than 200 million streams to date and is a top contender for “Song of the Summer” honors. Few songs were as euphoric and intoxicating this year, meantime, than “Got Me Started,” which rides a sample from electronic duo Bag Raiders into an instant, shout-it-out earworm. While both tracks are rowdy and rambunctious, the rest of the album is decidedly more nuanced.
The breezy acoustic bop “One of Your Girls” strings a spoken-word pre-chorus into a delightful come-on: “Give me a call if you ever get lonely [and] I’ll be like one of your girls,” Sivan coos (while executing the lyrics quite literally in the accompanying Ross Lynch-starring music video).
The singer declares himself a “Love Junkie” on “Silly,” a seductive, pulsating dance track that finds Sivan (willingly) looking for love in all the wrong places. “All the bodies on the floor collide, everybody’s out here looking right,” he sings, in a delicate falsetto-turned-whisper.
The sexual longing continues in “Honey,” which could just as easily have been titled “Horny,” with the singer’s “body working in overdrive” as he pursues a partner at night. With a hands-in-the-air chorus and blissed-out beat, the song seems destined to soundtrack a debaucherous night out (After Sivan’s appearance in HBO’s The Idol, it also seems primed to soundtrack a carnal montage on the next HBO hit).
Multi-layered and deeply personal, Something is Sivan’s most adventurous album in more ways than one. Musically, the singer stretches out to explore new instrumentation — and ornamentation — like on the hazy, organ-driven ballad, “Still Got It,” or the Latin-tinged “In My Room,” which features Spanish singer-songwriter Guitarricadelafuente. The jazzy album closer, “How to Stay With You,” rides a funk-lite beat and saxophone solo that producer Oscar Görres (Marina, Taylor Swift, Tove Lo) makes sound refreshingly modern yet retro at the same time.
Lyrically, Sivan manages to be earnest and self-aware, without descending into bitterness or self-loathing. That’s a testament to the connection he’s formed with longtime collaborator (and queer pop royalty in his own right) Leland. Together, they’ve crafted an album that toes the line between shocking intimacy and moments of blissful ignorance. Contrasts in the lyrics mirror contrasts in the melodies, which are at once intense and soft, melancholic and celebratory. And while tears are shed, inside jokes are also shared, drawing the listener in like a close confidante who can’t wait to get the tea.
While the wounds from his breakup may not be fully healed, on Something to Give Each Other you get the sense that Sivan is at least ready to try to move on. Nowhere it that more apparent than in “Can’t Go Back Baby,” a moody, affecting track that’s at once a sentimental lookback and self-empowerment anthem. “I hope you forgive yourself because I swear I do,” Sivan sings, “and it breaks my heart to say I can’t wait to live without you.”
Love is something that can cause you to hurt, and want, and experience a multitude of emotions. But as Sivan imparts on his sublime new album, sometimes the best inspiration comes from just having experienced love at all.