By Cait Brennan, July 2016 Issue.

Tegan and Sara | Love You To Death | WB | 

Is it a function of your humble correspondent’s advancing years, dear reader, or the duo’s own sparkling gift for reinvention, that makes Tegan and Sara still

seem a little like a “new band” — even after a 20-year career and a breakthrough album that came out well over a decade ago? But from the early Ani-influenced folk on This Business Of Art through the anthemic alt-pop crunch of So Jealous to the shimmering turn towards mainstream pop on 2013’s Heartthrob, they’ve approached each new album like a new debut. Love You To Death sharpens up the radio-friendly pop sound of Heartthrob – and sharpens up the lyrics too, making for a different kind of breakthrough that’s joyous, life-affirming and, in its own way, a bit of a revolution.

“That Girl” kicks off with an unsparing self-portrait of a woman trying to find her way to a better version of herself, and from the huge synth swells to the highly engineered rhythm track, it’s clear they’re aiming for Taylor and Sia heights, and they deliver.

“Boyfriend,” though, is bigger. Brilliant, catchy, irresistible, this track is also one of the first Tegan and Sara songs to overtly sing about a same-sex relationship. Both of the Quin sisters are lesbians, and they’ve advocated for the LGBTQ community for years, but they’ve always finessed their lyrics towards a more neutral, could-be-anybody point of view. Not this time, as the specifics pack a punch here that powers one of their best songs to date.

The contrast between their ear-candy harmonies and their astringent lyrics has long been one of Tegan and Sara’s strengths. Here, as the pop gets shinier, the undercurrent of disquiet has grown even stronger, as on “100x” and “Dying To Know,” well-crafted miniature odes to relationships falling apart and yearnings unfulfilled. But the overall sonic sheen here makes the entire listen a joy.

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Photo courtesy of The Dinah

The Dinah

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Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein

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