Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Love You to Death - Tegan and Sara embrace mainstream pop

album review

Artist: Tegan and Sara
Album: Love You to Death

It is always refreshing to see artists experimenting with their craft and taking their music in exciting new directions. But it is hard not to be at least a little disappointed when a formerly interesting artist strays too far from their sound just so they can blend into the mainstream crowd. Canadian sibling duo Tegan and Sara have, unfortunately, decided to walk down the latter path. The Quin sisters moved away from their indie pop rock beginnings to embrace the catchy flavours of glistening mainstream pop in their seventh album Heartthrob (2013), a move that alienated some of their long term fans but also brought them more commercial exposure. Their new record Love You to Death continues the pair’s journey into radio friendly synthpop territory.

Opting to work, once again, with producer Greg Kurstin, Tegan and Sara have ditched the guitars in favour of synthesizers, diluting their unique vibe for music that seems less textured and more polished.

The sisters tackle the troubles in their sibling relationship on songs like ‘100x’, although the primary focus of Love You to Death mostly remains on romantic concerns. But while love and heartbreak may still be the main subjects of their songs, the overt lyrics this time around exude more confidence as the 35-year-old twins finally choose to employ gender-specific pronouns, a change that is obvious on tracks like ‘Boyfriend’, which finds the duo confronting a lover who isn’t willing to make their relationship official (and could almost be a rejoinder to Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ and Demi Lovato’s ‘Cool for the Summer’), and ‘BWU’ where the singers shuns tradition and state they dont “want a white wedding”.

The album is at its best on the catchy ‘Stop Desire’ and ‘U-Turn’, and as a refined pop record, it is hard to deny the fact that the set is sleek and well crafted. The duo hasn’t, however, infused it with enough flavours to give the songs much variety and range. The tracks adhere to the synthpop formula from start to finish, and while their dance pop stylings remain enjoyable, there is nothing here that is quite as infectious as their biggest hit, ‘Closer’.

Only half an hour in length, Love You to Death is slick and vibrant, but its 10 tracks sound both familiar and a bit samey. This music caters to the same audience that follow artists like Carly Rae Jepsen and Chvrches, and isn’t likely to excite anyone who is looking for something different or interesting. Fans of the group’s earlier material who were hoping that Heartthrob was a one-off detour and that the group would either return to their roots or explore new territory with their next record are very likely to be disappointed by Love You to Death. But this album is sure to please listeners who enjoy mainstream music, especially those who are fond of synth-ridden, ‘80s-influenced dance pop.

- By Sameen Amer

Instep Today, The News - 28th June, 2016 *

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