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‘Love You to Death’ review: Tegan and Sara refine their pop sound

Tegan and Sara's

Tegan and Sara's "Love You to Death" is their follow-up to 2013's "Heartthrob." Credit: Warner Bros. Records

THE GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE Balancing artistic ambitions and pop aspirations

The Quin twins, better known as Tegan and Sara, took a gutsy, unexpected turn in 2013 with their “Heartthrob” album, abandoning the guitar-driven, indie-rock sound that had established them as stars, in favor of synth-driven pop.

On “Love You to Death” (Warner Bros.), Tegan and Sara refine their sound even further, allowing their ambitious lyrics and vocal deliveries to shine through more streamlined arrangements.

The first single “Boyfriend” is marvelously glossy, like the Quins hijacked a Lady Gaga song from “Artpop.” But the true developments come to close out the album with a bang. “100x” is a gorgeous, simple ballad about trying to find the strength to move on, often delivered with just piano accompaniment. But Tegan and Sara inject the phrasing with hip-hop swagger without the expected backbeat, creating something both surprising and effective.

“BWU” and “U-Turn” are two approaches to the same theme of negotiating expectations, with “BWU” being straightforward and “U-Turn” being sarcastic, though it’s so sly some may mistake it for pure romance. “Love You to Death” is all about the sacrifices we make to keep moving forward together, and those sacrifices have certainly paid off for Tegan and Sara.

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