"I don't need a ring to prove that you're worthy," Tegan and Sara sing on their new album, Love You to Death. "'Cause I don't need a white wedding… 'Cause I don't want a white wedding."
In the hands of another pop musician, the lyrics of "BWU" (likely an abbrev for "be with you") could easily ring hollow—empty platitudes pumped out hourly by a thousand Swedish music producers locked in a room full of typewriters. But when sung by identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin nearly a full year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a fundamental right for same-sex couples—and more than a decade after same-sex marriage was legalized in the sisters' native Canada—these declarations of love by way of institutional rejection take on far greater meaning.
Tegan and Sara's eighth studio album, released Friday, June 3, on Warner Bros. Records, continues the duo's march towards mainstream pop begun on 2012's Heartthrob and further hastened by the 2014 Lego Movie theme song "Everything Is Awesome." The sound driving the synth-heavy, bass-light collection of 10 tracks is catchy, if not totally boundary-pushing, and slower ballads like "White Knuckles" and "100x" occasional flatline under the static of their weighty electromagnetic soundscapes. But the synthpop put forth by Tegan and Sara remains some of the strongest in the genre, which only makes you wonder why it took two out lesbians eight albums to attain the level of notoriety that lesser dudes with women-as-food metaphors achieve on album one.
And by that, I mean I'm not wondering at all.
Respectability politics often boil down to a marginalized group trying to convince their dominant counterpart that "we're just like you." On Love You to Death, Tegan and Sara offer a tweaked alternative to such self-deprecating rhetoric. The duo's lyrics, on their surface, are still entirely focused on love—one of the historical cornerstones of assimilationist LGBT rights lobbying—but there are hints here and there to suggest a message that's less "We're just like you" than "We've been just like you this whole time. Glad you caught up. Now stop talking to me."
At least that's the truther reading I'm sticking to on recent promo single "U-Turn," a song that, at least superficially, is about winning back an ex-love after fucking up majorly. "Now I wanna write a love song," Tegan and Sara sing on the chorus, "Even though you never ever asked me for one." Bless their patience.
Bad at filling out bios seeks same.