tegan and sara - Love You To DeathWarnerIt's notoriously challenging for artists to go from underground darlings to pop stars.
It’s notoriously challenging for artists to go from underground darlings to pop stars without being accused of selling out. Sibling duo Tegan and Sara took the risk anyway on 2013’s Heartthrob, an infectious seventh album that successfully launched them wholly into the pop realm.
Love You To Death, produced by Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia, Beck), feels like the companion piece. The duo continue to embrace a strong pop sound, with a few stripped-back tracks here and there to please early fans. But while Heartthrob rode on highs (Closer) and lows (I Was A Fool), here the polished and introspective opener, That Girl, foreshadows the album’s contemplative themes: what we’ve done to hurt others, the challenge of letting go even when there’s nothing left to hold onto, and eventually learning how to love.
While many of the 10 tracks are interesting on their own, one musing song rolls into another. In some ways, the heavily pop tracks have the least to offer. U-Turn sounds like an ultra-benign answer to the Weeknd’s Earned It (“Give me a second / let me U-Turn / write you the love song that you’ve earned”), while Stop Desire starts off strong but dangerously veers into Lumineersesque territory with its “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh” chorus.
When they stop aiming for catchiness and instead get real about relationships, LYTD sparkles. White Knuckles’ ethereal backing vocals resonate hypnotically long after the first listen, and standout song B/W/U – “We don’t need a white wedding” – is intimate and honest, and deeply relevant for anyone not living the status quo when it comes to love.
Top track: B/W/U
Tegan and Sara play Massey Hall on October 28. See listing.