Canadian twins Tegan and Sara have continued their winning foray into the world of pop music, and the final product packs a dazzling, sugary punch.
On the surface, it’s hard to say whether much has evolved since 2013’s Heartthrob, which signaled Tegan and Sara’s move towards bubblegum pop. But what Love You to Death does is further refine those sounds. The writing and production is tighter and more streamlined, and many tracks adhere to a standard intro-verse-chorus structure. Nearly half the songs fall under three minutes. But is that to say that it’s unambitious or formulaic?
Well yes, but when it’s done well, it’s decidedly beside the point. There’s an underappreciated art to crafting great pop music, and the Quin sisters have nailed that. This is music that glimmers and soars, with catchy hooks and anthemic choruses. They are also the lead writers on all ten tracks, with pop mastermind Greg Kurstin producing all ten tracks. As a result, the record is cohesive and focused, maintaining uniform synth and electropop textures – perhaps even moreso than Heartthrob.
But what continues to set it apart is the directness and intimacy of the songwriting. Behind the hyperactive vocals are shifting emotions and a surprising element of introspection. To be sure, they’re all songs about love and romance. This time around, however, Tegan and Sara embrace a newfound confidence to write lyrics a lot closer to their heart.
Album highlight Boyfriend recounts Sara Quin’s experience with her (current) partner, a woman who at the time was still dating a man. Yet this is simply one level of interpretation. Like all of the other tracks on the record, is still very much an instantly relatable pop song about any kind of ambiguous romantic relationship.
It’s these qualities that bring about the inevitable comparisons to 80s pop, comparisons that are made almost routinely now. The thing is, the ubiquity of 80s influences in today’s pop climate means it’s no longer a novelty. But Tegan & Sara bring to the table is a sincere, infectious energy – and that’s fundamentally what made the 80s unique. It’s not necessarily about the cheesy production touches and analog synthesisers, but vital and playful songwriting, music that gets stuck in your head and makes you want to sing along.
With that said. it’s easy to forget that despite how fresh and contemporary the duo sound, they are after all on their eighth record. They’ve been making music for over fifteen years, and are seasoned veterans in the music industry. That wealth of experience shows here, and though it’s a pop record, the writing here is savvy and sharp. As indie artists, they’ve honed their craft making music that was honest and personal. In that respect, nothing’s changed – now it’s just tailored for the radio and the stadiums.
And when viewed from that perspective, this record is certainly more of a natural progression rather than a total U-Turn.
(Couldn’t help myself)