Music

POP

Tegan & Sara offer sublime synthpop catharsis on ‘Love You to Death’

The line between love and hate may be thin, but to hear sisters Tegan & Sara Quin sing it, slimmer still is the line between romantic love and feeling drained of life. The Canadian duo puts a 21st-century spin on New Romanticism, the early-’80s subgenre that trafficked in grand gestures and sparkling keyboards. It’s a good fit; tracks like “That Girl” and “Boyfriend” focus on minutiae that can seem mortally important in the hypercharged context of capital-R Relationships, and the pillowy synthpop beds crafted by superproducer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Kelly Clarkson) simultaneously cushion and enhance the psychic blows described within. The Quins’ voices give songs like “Faint of Heart” extra dramatic heft, while adding anxious shades to the steely-eyed façade of “Hang on to the Night.” Tegan & Sara’s new New Romanticism reflects the emotional spectrum that comes with love, then covers that mirror image in glitter and pomp — a catharsis that sounds sublime even when it feels oh so bad. MAURA JOHNSTON

ESSENTIAL “U-Turn”

Tegan & Sara play at the House of Blues Oct. 31.

Maura Johnston can be reached at maura@maura.com.
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