NEW YORK (AP) — Troye Sivan was initially going to begin his third full-length album with a ballad, a wistful song looking back at lost love. Then he thought better about it. Frisky was the way to go.
“I want people to know I’m OK. Things are good. Life is fun. Sex is great,” he says in an interview. “From the second they click play on the album, I wanted to slap them across the face.”
The first song — also the first single — is “Rush,” a blast of house and EDM beats topped by a male chanting chorus, combining to create the vibe of a crowded nightclub or strobe-lit rave.
“It was a feeling that I knew that I was feeling in life that I hadn’t yet managed to distill,” Sivan says. “When we finally got ‘Rush,’ I was like, ‘OK, this feels exactly the way that I want it to feel and communicates exactly what I wanted to communicate.’”
“Rush” — complete with a video in which the first image is of a man’s backside being slapped — was the last song added to “Something to Give Each Other,” Sivan’s 10-track full return after “Bloom” in 2018.
“I think that everything has been leading up to this,” he says. “When I remember the first album, I remember being so stressed and in my head and full of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. On the second album, I was getting a little bit more confident and finding my feet and still didn’t 100% know how to get from point A to point B.”
“Something to Give Each Other” sees the Australian singer-songwriter play with more production effects, layer in interesting sounds and even duet on a song sung partly in Spanish, all in a proudly LGBTQ+ space.
“This time I just took my time. I went to places that I loved, worked with people that I love. And it really was like a joy,” he says. “There wasn’t a single day of making this album where I was like pulling my hair out, stressed, wanting to cry. And I’m really happy about that.”
The new album has the potential to cement Sivan among today’s pop elite. His debut “Blue Neighborhood,” in 2015, and “Bloom” both reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album charts.
“I didn’t really feel the pressure to prove anything this time around,” he says. “I did feel a bit more free to play around and do what I think sounds coolest and what I think communicates the story best.”
Sivan’s list of collaborators over the years is long, including Ariana Grande, Alessia Cara, Charli XCX, Lauv, Zedd, Betty Who and PNAU. He featured on Kacey Musgraves’ “Glittery,” which saw him climb the Hot Country Songs chart in 2019. This time he teamed up with Guitarricadelafuente for “In My Room.”
Sivan, 28, says there’s a thrill in crafting songs that keeps him coming back, describing it as an unpredictable process where control is illusory no matter how good you are.
“Without sounding corny, there’s a layer of magic to it,” he says. “You can go into the studio two days in a row, let’s say, with the exact same people in the exact same studio. And one day it happens and the other day it doesn’t. And I don’t know what the difference is between those two days.”
“Got Me Started” has a little of that studio magic. Sivan and producer Ian Kirkpatrick slowed down the chorus and then returned it to regular speed, creating a choppy and unsettled effect on Sivan’s vocals.
“I think maybe previously I would have been like, ‘Oh, you can’t really hear my voice’ and that would have maybe got in the way. Whereas now I’m like, ‘No, this sounds really cool and I love it.’ So I want to I want to just go for it,” Sivan says.
For “One of Your Girls,” a needy song with the lyrics “Give me a call if you ever get lonely/I’ll be like one of your girls or your homies,” Sivan turned to a vocoder, which synthesized his voice.
“The song only really clicked for me when I realized that we had to communicate this sort of like numbness, this dissociative feeling. And I was like, ‘OK, we’ve kind of built this character of like a sad robot or something who’s so desperate to connect and who is trying, but for whatever reason, can’t can’t cut through.’”
During the pandemic, Sivan offered fans the EP “In a Dream,” which was experimental and uneasy, with the singer’s bravado muted. In the interview, he reveals he was going through a breakup.
“I had had that low moment and the thing that I was craving more than anything was levity and fun and community and being with people,” he says.
“That really set me on the path of this album and kind of made it super crystal clear what this album should look like, feel like, sound like.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits