Ever been hit with heartbreak, worked to get through it, and then felt the joys of a new crush and relearning oneself? Well, Troye Sivan has a few words to say to you. With his last EP released in the throes of the pandemic and his last full album, Bloom, released five years ago, Troye Sivan’s latest project has been a long time in the making. Fans have been waiting patiently, and wow, did Sivan gift us beautiful stories of joy found through distress.
Troye Sivan, a 28-year old Australian artist, might not be a household name; yet many at least casually know of his music. After Sivan released “YOUTH” as a single off of his debut studio album Blue Neighborhood (2015), the lyrics “My youth, my youth is yours / Trippin’ on skies, sippin’ waterfalls” became an instant earworm and a mainstay on pop radio. Despite finding success among pop lovers (myself included!), Sivan’s music never reached the top of the charts—that is, until the release of his new album, Something to Give Each Other (STGEO) on Oct. 13, 2023.
The critically-acclaimed album features ten songs that offer a new perspective on Sivan’s experience with queerness and the cultivation of joy in life. In Sivan’s words, “This album is my something to give you – a kiss on a dancefloor, a date turned into a weekend, a crush, a winter, a summer. Party after party, after party after after party. Heartbreak, freedom. Community, sisterhood, friendship. All that.” Sivan hinted on Tik Tok that STGEO would be a gift specifically “for the Blue Neighborhood girlies”; in other words, a blissful return to the heart-wrenching autobiographical storytelling we first fell in love with all those years ago. However, this album presents far more warmth than the cool blues of Sivan’s sullen suburbia. Instead, the feeling of STGEO is more purely joyful, lingering more on the highs of new love.
“Rush,” the album’s lead single, establishes Sivan’s formidable pivot towards optimism; the track is a funky, vibrant, adrenaline-filled song with breathy vocals and an addictive beat. Though Sivan confesses he’s “addicted [to his partner’s] touch,” the dizzying, dance-floor feeling makes the source of Sivan’s rush (pure adrenaline? drugs?) effectively ambiguous. “Rush” introduces the quintessentially pop tracklist while simultaneously breaching Sivan’s intimate thoughts of self-identity and queerness in a manner contradictory to the overall beat. Sivan’s lead single encapsulates his hallmark style: relatable lyrics that contrast a sensitive, melodious musicality.
Sivan builds on the infectious fever of “Rush” with “Got Me Started,” another upbeat single that heavily samples Bag Raider’s 2008 Australian dance hit (and meme classic) “Shooting Stars.” Placed in the middle of the album, this song revives the energy of “Rush” with another round of airy vocals and a beat that pumps through your veins and cannot leave your head. While the sample is a bit jarring and reads like an inside joke given its strong connection to internet culture, the song is utterly addicting. The chorus, “You just got me started / And I don’t think I can stop it / And I don’t wanna go home alone, alright?” speaks of love’s hopeful return: “It was the euphoric moment of that total freedom of realizing that you’re completely fine on your own and that also this is not a moment of sadness, but a moment of endless possibilities,” Sivan explained.
Sivan’s music videos cement his place in the pop industry with their aesthetically pleasing and authentic nature that often deepen the narratives of his songs. Teasing clips of musician Ross Lynch and an unidentified woman in the days leading up to the release of the video for “One Of Your Girls,” Sivan surprised his fans when he revealed that he was the figure in the white dress in spectacular drag hair and makeup. Becoming, quite literally, one of the girls, Sivan stares deep into the camera, almost whispering as his hair is swept around, adding a sensual look to the video. The song evokes a heartfelt, tantalizing desire and demonstrates Sivan’s internal conflicts with pining over straight men: “Give me a call if you ever get lonely / I’ll be like one of your girls or your homies.”
This song is a tender reflection on attraction, identity, and Sivan’s vulnerabilities. His sorrow and desperation for connection is flatlined by the robotic tone—produced by a vocoder—and breathiness of the dreamy verses. With more spoken verse than other songs, the swishy, electric beat of “One Of Your Girls” contrasts the wispy vocals; it sounds like a post-party afterglow but reads like a depressing winter night.
“Honey,” a song near the end of the tracklist, synthesizes the album’s emphasis on sensuality and newfound love: According to Sivan’s Spotify storyline, the chorus is his “mission statement for the album as a whole:” “I see love in every space / I see sex in every city, every town.” The track feels like night drives through city lights, with a peppy beat and guitar fueling the song’s adrenaline. Lovely harmonies contrast dragging beats and the scratchiness of certain high-pitched notes near the end. This song demonstrates Sivan’s impressive ability to layer vocals; there is the clear throughline of verse and chorus, contrasted by the convoluted adlibs, which creates a flighty, overwhelming track.
This blissful expression of yearning also erupts in “What’s The Time Where You Are?” which starts with a whisper, “God, I wish it was you.” After the intro, a bouncing beat and solid base, similar to “Rush,” begins, filled with muddled voices speaking in the background. This charming track bleeds with a sweet ache, one spoken to life with “I’m feeling like my head’s just in a distant time and place… And I spent so long just waitin’ for the signs / Thought I’d lost my every feeling on the ride.” The slowed-down, reverbed ending enhances the song’s intimacy, and washes the listener in a total silence that typically pairs with the feeling of missing a loved one; it’s when that one person possesses every single one of your thoughts, drowning out anything else.
The mood changes dramatically with “In My Room,” which features Spanish artist Guitarricadelafuente. Although the album’s throughline of throbbing beats maintains its presence, “In My Room” possesses a push-and-pull between Sivan and Guitarricadelafuente that differentiates it from the other tracks. Sivan’s voice is more clear and solid, with the Spanish lyrics by Guitarricadelafuente breaking up the cadence. A bit slower than other tracks, this song feels like an evening during the last wisps of summer, where the air is warm and the sun is glittering. “I’m all alone in my room / I’m just thinking ‘bout you / It’s a feeling I can’t describe / Maybe it’s just admiration, copulation or adoration” contradicts the easy contentedness of the music, exploring how one can agonize over the confusion of the beginning of relationships in solitude.
In contrast to the optimistic outlook on new love in the first half of the album, “Still Got It” and “Can’t Go Back, Baby” are the crown jewels of the album. The first gnaws at the listener’s core by depicting the overwhelming, one-sided desire to please a past lover. The track begins with a choir-esque organ introduction and powerfully personal lyrics, “Cut my hair into a bowl after you told me that you liked it like that / Wish I didn’t care at all, but now I’m in the mirror with scissors in hand.” Sivan wrote this sincere song from the experience of “seeing a past love and realizing they still have all the things that made you fall in love with them in the first place.” Reminiscent of the storytelling of Blue Neighborhood and the dull ache of his EP In A Dream (2020), “Still Got It” layers the poignant memories of moving on with a renewal of love and emotion. While STGEO is largely celebratory, “Still Got It” exemplifies the pain that accompanies the process of moving on. The layered vocals and adlibs give depth to Sivan’s singular, sorrowful voice, and the ending, adorned with a riveting guitar solo and drum beat, ties the track together gorgeously. Sivan’s soft belts tug at the listener’s heartstrings with bittersweet happiness.
The piano ballad “Can’t Go Back, Baby” furthers this motif of nostalgia and conflicting emotions. Sivan samples Jessica Pratt’s “Back, Baby,” slowing the album down even more, with a simple piano and slow beat in the background. “I was angry, I was sad, but I still felt so much love,” Sivan revealed on Spotify, a sentiment which shines through in lyrics such as “I wish you weren’t dead to me / So much to miss in you / More than just my enemy / You were my lover too / And I hope you forgive yourself, because I swear I do.” The musicality mirrors Sivan’s clashing feelings—a clapping beat and tinkling noises conclude the track on a reminiscent note.
Finally, “How To Stay With You” presents an ode to an uncertain future, creating the third stage following heartbreak and relearning love. The echoey introduction builds into a cutting melody, creating a slow, groovy pop climax of the album. The vivacious album ends with an iconic saxophone solo fade out and a mellow few words: “Starting out when I got all I wanted / Starting to feel a little bit despondent.”
STGEO is a much calmer album compared to the rest of Sivan’s discography, highlighting the soft contours of his voice and undeniable charisma. The record blends the best of all his works into one: the storytelling of his first album, the exploration of queerness and delicate, innocent nature of Bloom, and the raging pains of his latest EP, bringing the listener through the past three years of Sivan’s life. Tackling heartbreak, healing, and desire, STGEO is an intimate look at queer struggles and a celebration of queer joy in equal measure. This album’s complex musicality and lyrical skill, written in its stellar visuals, brilliant vocals, and dazzling melodies, made the wait far worth it. It’s gorgeous, it’s ingenious, it’s blazing: Sivan has definitely “Still Got It.”
VOICE’s CHOICES: Rush; In My Room; Still Got It; Can’t Go Back, Baby