Reviews: Tegan and Sara, Holy Fuck

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Tegan and Sara, Love You to Death

by Luke Fowler

Some passable stuff here, mostly confined to the second half; the chorus of “BWU” has the album’s one remotely moving melody, while “100x” and “U-Turn” change up the backing instrumentation to save listeners from having to hear the exact same synths for 32 minutes straight. Otherwise, I’m surprised by how heavily this rubs me the wrong way. I’ve always been able to count on Tegan and Sara for pleasantly unchallenging indie pop, but for whatever reason, this release feels totally devoid of any personality or flair, which was the main thing their earlier albums had going for them. It’s all so predictable; every synth lead uses the same predetermined set of voices (this is an industry-wide problem, by the way—if you did a blind test with these instrumentals and CHVRCHES’ and consistently chose the correct band, I’d give you a prize on the spot), every supposed emotional high is telegraphed eight bars in advance, every harmony seems obligatory, and every lyric is written and sung painfully mechanically. I’m a fan of what Tegan and Sara stand for as a band (the indie sphere always needs and has needed more LGBT artists, female artists, and/or LGBT female artists), but I can’t get behind any of the music they’re presenting here, save for a select couple tracks (“Dying To Know” and “BWU”, if you’re interested). Otherwise, skip this one—as Tegan and Sara themselves put it on “100x”, you’ve already heard it “a thousand times a different way”. C MINUS

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Holy Fuck, Congrats

by Marshall Gu

Didn’t have high hopes for this one given the dumb stage name, and also because their calling card of using organic instruments (and/or non-instruments) to produce non-organic (electronic) sounds is a boring premise on its own. (The best way an electronic artist can get the attention of rock critics: use rock instruments!) It didn’t help matters that the first song sounded like a louder Silver Apples imitation that went on for 5 minutes. But all of the songs (minus one useless interlude) had at least something worth returning to as I played Congrats over and over again: the murky vocals and the psychedelic bluster of “Tom Tom”; the visceral bass-lines of “House of Glass”. Certain songs like “Shivering” and “Sabbatics” undergo predictable conclusions, but the former holds another solid groove and the latter introduces fleet-footed arpeggio to contrast with the heavier surroundings. Similarly, closer “Caught Up” eventually brings in a synth line in much the same manner and for much the same purpose, while “Neon Dad” nicely slots in the middle of the track, providing breathing room on the dancefloor as a more light-hearted synth-pop-inspired number. But all told: I don’t find this music nearly as transportative as it should be: it doesn’t get me on my feet and moving. Yet, given the right environment where these grooves and crescendos upon crescendos make more sense than in my study room? I’d dance. B