Review: Love You to Death by Tegan and Sara

Love You to Death by Tegan and SaraIt’s interesting how Tegan and Sara managed to transition from indie pop gems to (more or less) mainstream pop stars without shocking so many people for so long. Sure, their last album, 2013’s Heartthrob, may have worried some fans a bit, but that turned out fine – the same irresistible pop tunes albeit wearing a different jacket, shiny but somehow better for it. Love You to Death sees the twins refine their take on their more mainstream direction, again without sounding like sell outs. Reuniting with producer Greg Kurstin, the record feels much more focused, much more confident, much more comfortable in its skin. It also shows in the lyrics: for once there’s a much more explicit reference to their sexuality in the songs. Oh, and yes, the songs are fun, bouncy without being frothy, all somehow remaining true to who they are – and perhaps more so than ever before. I don’t quite know how they pulled it off, but they have. [NB]4/5

Foreign indie acts in Manila? They don’t make much sense. Yet.

The only way to buy a Feist album here is on vinyl, and frankly, that is not right.

In the past few years we’ve seen more relatively out-of-mainstream acts perform in Manila. Gone, it seems, are the times when the only foreign artists who would stop here are 60s and 70s bands targeting baby boomers, or the obviously big pop acts. Now we’ve had visits from Grimes, the xx and Tegan and Sara. We’ve had the Wanderland Festival last April, an attempt at bringing summer festival culture to the Philippines (albeit with half of the line-up being Aussie acts with, likely, a very small following). And, of course, there were the bigger acts, like Joss Stone at Malasimbo (which has been going on for a while and has been, so far, mostly under the radar) and, last month, the Killers.

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The crash course: The many adventures of Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara have taken on many sounds throughout their career.

The rumor mill ran for too long, the speculation got a little ridiculous, but it’s finally happening: Tegan and Sara, those Canadian indie-popping twins, are performing here in Manila. (They’ve been here since yesterday at the earliest; I think they were at Greenbelt doing some sort of meet and greet.) Now we have confirmation, all we have to do is do to that crash course thing we usually do, because I (again) need a sort of introduction to the girls. Not that I’m completely unfamiliar with them. Anyway, their 18-year career (yes) in five songs. [NB]

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“I went so crazy, I didn’t know what to do.”

“City Girl” by Tegan and Sara | So, yes, Tegan and Sara are finally, finally, finally coming to Manila. And then, apparently, the organizers decide to fuck up the whole ticket process. The fanbase is angry and I can just shake my head. Nia got back to my tweets two days ago with her first favorite T&S songs, and one of them was “City Girl”, from their 2002 album If It Was You. Okay, I picked this looking for a vague connection between the lyrics and the whole ticket issue thing. And admit it, there is one. But that said, if you’re coming into the Canadian duo only on the strength of their latest album Heartthrob, then it’s worth mentioning that that record is an outlier, and they did best with catchy, jangly, often quirky indie pop like this one. Lyrics? Read into it whatever you may. Now, I’ll work on that Tegan and Sara crash course set to go live on the day of the concert itself, because hell, I need one myself. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“I stuck around. I did behave. I saved you every time.”

“I Was A Fool” by Tegan and Sara | Another proof that relatively indie artists will have to go to concert in Manila before their CDs are sold here: Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob showed up surprisingly on our record store shelves three months back, and now there’s news that they are swinging by here. I remember my friend Chesca (she who literally stood front and center during the Keane concert) begging the powers that be to do this, and then I saw Heartthrob and tweeted her that it’s inevitable – and it is. Anyway, I’m not well-versed in the music of these Canadian sisters – I’ve heard of them, but the only song I really listened to was “Back In Your Head” back when NU 107 was still running – that song sounded reasonably indie as opposed to the stuff from their latest album, which went towards a more electropop sound. I’ll also admit I have yet to really listen to that album, but this, their latest single, I love, because it sounds like a scratchy, good 80s ballad.