Author: Briana Ellison
Though this is the second album in which they’ve departed from their former indie alt-rock sound, “Love You to Death” features the aching and powerful Tegan and Sara lyrics fans have come to love almost 20 years into the duo’s career.
“LY2D” is mostly about relationships: their relationship as twins, their relationships with their partners (both past and present) and their relationships with their identities as queer women. All of the album’s songs showcase these differing relationships perfectly. The album also makes use of the duo’s penchant for having one twin be the primary singer with the other doing backup vocals.
The album opens with the piano-led “That Girl.” The verses make soft use of Tegan’s rustic alt-rock vocals. Through the repetition of certain keywords in these verses, Tegan’s able to emphasize the awe and bewilderment of the song’s message. The verses fade softly into the faster paced and dazzling chorus. As Tegan croons “When did I become that girl?” you find yourself in your own twilight zone of wonder.
The next track is “Faint of Heart,” again sung primarily by Tegan and utilizing lyrical repetition. The backing pulsing beat gives a sense of the song being more upbeat. This sense is realized fully in the positively bubbly beat of the chorus, which contrasts well with the serious and urgent tone of the lyrics.
The third track of “LY2D” is the lead single “Boyfriend,” released in April. Sung by Sara, it features lilting, stair-step vocals in the verses, preceding a confident, belted and accusatory chorus. The chorus is perfectly placed over a beat reminiscent of the shiny electro-pop of the 1980s. Lyrically, the song explores the confusion that comes with figuring out the beginning of a new relationship.
Next is “Dying to Know.” This song definitely has more of a groove feel, while also making use of the lilting harmonic structure from “Boyfriend.” The chorus is surprisingly sung in a higher register, which makes the song feel more modern than almost anything else out there. The electro-pop sound is heavy but not overbearing, keeping Tegan’s voice and her snappy lyrics the star. “Dying to Know” has the production and lyrics to be the perfect summer track.
“Stop Desire” is up next, another track sung by Tegan. Its fast pace relays the urgent message and want that the song’s lyrics portray. The chorus is genius: slower and less urgent, with the acceptance of one’s emotional and romantic yearnings.
The sixth track is the piano balled “White Knuckles.” Sung by Sara, it’s the most honest song about their twin relationship; it’s also most reminiscent of their past albums, with an alt-rock twist to the pop base. Anyone with a sibling could relate to the emotional tug of war this song highlights: not only between two people, but also internally, between one’s pride and one’s less-than-prideful actions. The ultimate beauty of this song is Sara’s soft, breathy and emotional voice.
Next is “100x,” another piano ballad that sounds like the continuation of “White Knuckles;” it’s also sung by Sara and details the twins’ relationship, “100x” is more piano-heavy with an emphasis on putting one’s pride and selfishness aside, but also recognizing that fault rarely lies with one person in a conflict. This track shows that Tegan and Sara have perfected the strengths that lie in their differing voices.
“BWU” is the most blunt and straightforward song on the album to the point where it stumped me upon my first listen. As a hardcore Tegan and Sara fan, I’m used to vague, metaphor-laced lyrics, but “BWU” is emotionally and lyrically refreshing.
The penultimate track is “U-turn,” one that’s lyrically similar to “BWU” but with more of the typical Tegan and Sara metaphors. It’s also the album’s most upbeat track, emulating total acceptance of one’s actions and personality in a serious relationship. “U-turn” also has a beat that’s reflective of the electro-pop ’80s sheen other reviewers have been giving the album.
The album closes with “Hang on to the Night.” Whereas it’s common for artists to end with a ballad or a slower song, “Hang on to the Night” sits comfortably between fast paced and semi-ballad with a whirling hypnotic tune. The perfect closer, “Hang on to the Night” is an upbeat and inspiring ode to acceptance and the future. It showcases the amazing growth Tegan and Sara have experienced over their almost 20-year career as they’ve finally reached their truth with an album that’s new, yet true to their indie roots.
The ultimate beauty of “LY2D” lies in its structure. The first four songs detail the stage of denial when experiencing conflict in a relationship, before moving into the stage of understanding with the following three songs. The stage of acceptance is detailed in the album’s final three songs, taking the listener on a moving journey of self-reflection.
Overall, I give this album a 9/10, only because I wanted more songs. I fell in love with the album from the opening beat of “That Girl,” and was sad when “Hang on to the Night” ended. Though some lament Tegan and Sara’s move toward electro-pop, I applaud it, as the twins have kept their lyrical and musical self throughout the change. When you think about it, alt-rock and electro-pop aren’t all that different.
SONGS TO DEFINITELY LISTEN TO: Dying to Know; White Knuckles; U-turn