The title Love You to Death (2016) aptly describes Tegan and Sara‘s newest album: a solid indie pop record with irresistibly catchy synth backing their stark, heartbroken lyricism. The album is a continuation of Heartthrob‘s (2013) musicality, a complete departure from the duo’s previous alt-rock style that placed them as an indie favorite with albums such as The Con (2007) and So Jealous (2004). However, this change proves to be a step in the right direction in their pursuit of this new sound; Tegan and Sara masterfully navigate the synth pop realm in a way that even converts a die-hard fan of their previous style to grudgingly agree that their newest album is something worth listening to.
Love You to Death‘s first three tracks set the musical themes of the album, with the bright, full symphonic sounds of “That Girl,” the bouncy, quick dance beats reminiscent of 80’s pop in “Faint of Heart,” and the bursts of synth strings backed by crisp, dynamic backing beats in “Boyfriend.” They also set the lyrical themes of the album, covering the doubts and insecurities that come with relationships.”That Girl” tackles frustration with changing as a person beyond self-recognition. “Faint of Heart” deals with overcoming insecurity when faced with criticism and “Boyfriend” deals with the difficulties with being taken advantage of with first time loves. “Dying to Know” is a track melancholy in lyric, but not in melody, acting as an upbeat love-letter inquiry to a former lover pleading, “Is the one you ended up with everything you wanted? I’m dying to know.”
“Stop Desire” changes the mood up a bit as a celebratory anthem dedicated to the euphoric attributes of love. Accompanied by vivid synth-pop runs layered over each other, Tegan’s voice declares the inevitability of love in a way that’s both triumphant and sweet, while being incredibly catchy as well. “White Knuckles” and “100x” continue the previous doleful narrative as two somber piano ballads about past pains and regrets. Sara noted in an interview with Vulture that the next catchy track, “BWU,” is about her annoyance with the public’s opinion that “given that we’re queer and with the Supreme Court ruling last year, a lot of people imagined we were celebrating and running off to get married.” Sara additionally emphasized, “I wanted people to know that just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean I want to partake.” Her inclusion of this political stance’s importance to her makes this song one of her favorite Tegan and Sara tracks over all. The album ends with an hopefully energetic tune, “U-turn” about changing for the better and “Hang on to the Night,” an optimistic track about hanging on to your heart, your hope, and yourself because “no good will come from being untrue.” A slight bit cheesy, but heartfelt all the same.
While Love You to Death is impressive in the expertise resultant from the duo’s continual exploration in the pop sphere, it does lack an extra intricacy or additional spark of Tegan and Sara uniqueness that was present on their previous albums. Even though one listen to Sainthood (2009) or The Con solidifies their stance as my personal favorites, Love You to Death definitely exceeded my expectations by far and in the end, is quite a good album.
Article by Vivian Chen