Tegan & Sara - Love You to Death - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tegan & Sara - Love You to Death

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2016-06-03

Wheeeee... Tegan and Sara have probably outdone themselves with Love You to Death. First off, it's obvious they're having a ton of fun, especially if you go and watch all the goofy videos they're releasing for this album. Yes, they're releasing a video for every track, and while they've so far been all quite different, they've shared one commonality: silliness. Outside of that, this album finds them sliding farther away from any gritty, edgy alt rock sound they may have had in bygone years and toward a super slick, highly produced pop aesthetic. Some people will probably detest their progression, but for someone like me who cut his teeth on 80s synth pop, it's all good.

Things start off a bit of a reflective, pensive note with 'That Girl', driven in turns by moody piano and huge synth washes. Although it starts off slow, it builds up a good amount of energy, and has an eminently singable chorus. Yes, I've been caught singing 'When did I become that girl?' in public. In the same vein, 'Faint of Heart' feels a bit troubled, but ultimately optimistic, with a classic theme of working through difficult emotions. Lots of fun 80s-flavored beats propel the song, along with Tegan and Sara doing their usual great harmonizing.

'Dying to Know' is another highlight, adding some hip-hop flourishes to the percussion, and at least one squiggly little sound effect I think I recognize from a video game. But the big bangin chorus creates a wonderful tension between the rhythm and the vocals that guarantees yet another earworm is going to be lodged in your brain.

Things slow down a bit with 'White Knuckles', but despite its status as a piano-centric ballad, it's still remarkably powerful and loaded with impact, with a langourously headnodic chorus. It's followed by '100X', another ballad that is easily the weakest track on the set. It's super slow and completely unadorned compared to the rest of the songs, with almost nothing beyond bare piano and vocals. It's not awful, but compared to the glittering brilliance of the rest of the set, it feels like a desert in the middle of a lush rainforest: relatively barren and lifeless.

'U-Turn' is pure pop bliss, with bobbing, rolling synth melodies and the twins at their sweetest. The verses have hooks, the choruses have hooks, the pre-choruses have hooks, even the bridge has a whole new raft of hooks, and they're all just dragging you along mercilessly until the song is over and you want to play it again. Other songs on the album take the same path, with upbeat, bouncy songs that are easy to like, although not achieving quite the same level of perfection.

And despite a few tiny hiccups, the overall experience is somewhere between pure fun and unrequited longing, a solid mix of emotions that doesn't make you gag with a mouthful of sugar or groan from an overwrought crocodile tear. It's an uplifting set that I imagine will be highly divisive among fans. Taken alone, it's a gorgeous piece of pop genius. Taken in the context of their career, it's them shedding the last remnants of their lo-fi, pseudo post punk beginnings. Whether that's a good or bad thing will depend on the individual listener. Personally, I'm totally fine with it.

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You can only make so many records in your bedroom; I applaud these two for pushing the envelope of their sound......great review!

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