Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) - Paul Feig

Ghostbusters (2016)

Does swapping men for women really make that much of a difference?

Of course not. This new Ghostbusters film is inferior to the original, but having female leads is not inherently the problem. That comes from a poor script, lack of characterisation and missing charm.

Or maybe tired female stereotypes telling puerile jokes is your thing? Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy do their standard schtick as Erin and Abby, two scientists exploring the paranormal and dropping a fart joke within the first fifteen minutes. Then there’s Kate McKinnon as the “quirky” one and Leslie Jones as the token black character who amounts to little more than sassy catchphrases. With such a great opportunity to write some interesting comic characters, the lack of originality is disappointing.

Then again, the film does pay homage to the original. There are plenty of cameos by actors from the 80s films, and instead of the giant marshmallow man there’s a clever twist on the Ghostbusters logo. The plot itself also follows a similar trajectory – it’s familiar yet just about different enough.

If there’s one thing that gets these women more excited than ghosts, though, it’s men. The mere sight of Chris Hemsworth and his bulging muscles as dim receptionist Kevin is enough to make them go all googly-eyed. Cue jokes about women lusting after men and men having little to offer except their bodies. Maybe that’s a twist on the usual gender politics we see in the media, but it doesn’t make for strong characterisation. If anything, Hemsworth steals the film with his comic performance and glint in his eye.

Ultimately, though, this is a film that plays on its own meta-narrative, a film about female hysteria and audience expectations. Just as the public believe the women are frauds for chasing ghosts, most viewers will be looking to pick holes in their performances. They do, of course, come out on top in both narrative layers: the scientists save the day and these actresses prove they are more than capable of holding up an entertaining enough summer action blockbuster. It might not do much in the way of strong writing for women, but perhaps seeing women taking the lead in such a high profile film is empowering enough.

2/5

Watch: Ghostbusters is out now.


Saturday, 16 July 2016

New Pop Roundup

Britney Spears - Make Me

Britney Spears - Make Me

Where's the excitement? Where's the hook? Where's the Britney comeback we've been promised for the best part of a decade? And where the hell are her clothes?




Katy Perry - Rise

Katy Perry - Rise

The queen of uplifting pop anthems, who else could release a song for the Rio Olympics? It's not her best, with its muted beat and lack of a truly brilliant, sing-along chorus, but it's certainly functional. More than that, the video features plenty of footage of London 2012, perhaps the last time this country could be described as "Great" on the world stage.




Snakehips & ZAYN - Cruel

Snakehips & ZAYN - Cruel

Besides a load of remixes, Snakehips are best known for their 2015 track All My Friends. ZAYN you already know, of course. Together, Cruel is all snappy beats, choppy synth samples and smooth vocals - the best of both artists. A surprise release and potentially a surprise hit.




Justice - Safe and Sound

 Justice - Safe and Sound

The French act's first release in five years, Safe and Sound brings the same hard-edged future disco they're known for. That means funk bass, spacey synths and layered vocals. The problem is this track just doesn't go anywhere after the first minute, ultimately lacking impact for all its euphoric sounds. And didn't Daft Punk do this better a couple of years back?




Tinashe - Superlove

Tinashe - Superlove

Superlove is a more uptempo bop than we're used to from Tinashe, but it retains her sexy vocals. With production from The-Dream (Rihanna's Umbrella and Beyoncé's Single Ladies amongst others) and his right-hand man Tricky Stewart, this is the sort of R&B pop-crossover track that will bring Tinashe the chart success she deserves.




Banks - Fuck With Myself

Banks - Fuck With Myself

Dark, sensual music + twisted video = the sexiest track of the year so far.




AlunaGeorge - Mean What I Mean

AlunaGeorge - Mean What I Mean

The London duo are on a roll at the moment in the lead-up to their forthcoming album. Mean What I Mean is standard fare for them, with a slick take on dancehall flavours and infectious syncopated rhythms. That is until you hear...




Lao Ra - Drum Machine

  Lao Ra - Drum Machine

Drum Machine is the follow up to Lao Ra's debut release Jesus Made Me Bad and twists the tropical vibes and dancehall feel so popular at the moment into something edgier but no less enthralling. She's definitely giving AlunaGeorge a run for their money.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Bat for Lashes - The Bride

Bat for Lashes - The Bride

What with the alter egos, the dark fantastical imagery, and the moody timeless music, Natasha Khan is an artist known for her boundary pushing creative output. Only she could create an album about a jilted bride at the altar.

'The Bride' is a high concept album filled with gloom, though it begins on a hopeful note. Opener I Do is the epitome of innocence, with its angelic vocals ("tomorrow you will ask me if I do") and gentle harp lulling us towards doom. In God's House, the bride is left at the altar as her fiancé tragically dies, signalled by the car crash at the start of Honeymooning Alone. From here, she must learn to cope with solitude, building towards I Will Love Again.

For all intents and purposes, then, it's a break-up album, but one that's wrapped up in cinematic storytelling. But is this really a culmination of concept, poetry and music, or just a pretentious step too far?

In truth, it's somewhere in between. There are some stunning moments here where storytelling and music collide. In God's House perfectly encapsulates the bride's tragedy, haunted by bells and organ, the final calls of "fire, fire" evaporating into smoke. Honeymooning Alone adds a Tarantino flare with its twanging guitars, a not-so-subtle link to a certain other bride. And with Sunday Love there's a real sense of urgency in the driving beats and bass as her world crashes around her.

Yet as the bride goes alone on honeymoon to reconnect with herself, the album dissolves into bleak, minimalist ballads. There remain some highlights: the weirdly tragic psychedelia of Close Encounters; the spoken word incantation of Widow's Peak; the yearning determination of I Will Love Again. But amongst these are piano ballads that fail to spark, either dramatically or musically.

For all its theatricality, 'The Bride' doesn't quite satisfy. With its focus on storytelling, it lacks the musical creativity we've come to expect from Khan; equally the story itself fails to reach a satisfying conclusion. Instead she floats off into the lofty dreamworld of Clouds; but Khan remains more entertaining when she's grounded, earthy and raw.

3/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Sunday Love
* Close Encounters
* I Will Love Again

Listen: 'The Bride' is out now.




Monday, 4 July 2016

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

“Ok ladies now let’s get in formation”. Beyoncé doesn’t waste any time. Her ‘Formation World Tour’ is nothing short of a call-to-arms and from the opening number she’s gathering her troops, her performance dominated by guttural vocals, militaristic choreography and a series of uniforms rather than costumes. The only comparison is Michael Jackson as she pauses to look out over her crowd of supporters, a single look enough to incite gasps and screams. There’s no denying she’s the biggest popstar on the planet.

In today’s post-Brexit political landscape, it’s refreshing to see a leader with such passion and fiery determination. The titles alone of the opening few tracks illustrate her relationship with her fans: Formation, Irreplaceable, Flawless, Run The World (Girls). At one point she even sits on a throne, such is her confidence to stand before her followers and stir a not-so-quiet revolution – a revolution for equality, her hair braided throughout to emphasise her blackness and much of the show a celebration of black culture alongside tribal outfits, traditional dance moves and even a tribal call in Grown Woman.

It’s the subtext of ‘Lemonade’, then, that’s the focus here. Her latest album, from which many of the songs are taken, may have followed the destruction and rebuilding of marriage, but its visuals told another story of race, politics, and female empowerment. On tour, this ‘visual album’ translates to a huge oversized screen that dominates the stage, rotating and presenting flashes of provocative imagery alongside spoken poetry with cinematic flare. It’s clear that Freedom is the climax of a show that reclaims black culture, performed in a pool of water as seen recently at the BET awards.

And on the theme of power, Beyoncé’s performance is mesmerising throughout, whether showing fierceness and strength through her dancing, snarling her way through the likes of Don’t Hurt Yourself, or gradually working her way through the key changes of Love On Top sung a capella with impeccable vocals.

It’s not all cold, hard aggression though. “The best revenge is your papers,” she sings at the end of Formation holding her hands up in a cash motion, yet whilst you can’t deny she must be swimming in the stuff, she remains humble. She smiles. She’s “so honoured and grateful” as she thanks her fans for their support. And she’s more than happy to show softness and fun, singing older songs like 1+1, Party, End of Time and throwbacks to her days with Destiny’s Child. All the sides of her character are revealed, with the centre of the set essentially the sex section as she sings Yoncé, Drunk In Love, Rocket and Partition. There’s even room for a Prince tribute as Purple Rain is played (and the heavens literally opened for the duration).

It’s not quite a flawless show. There are some dips: the Naughty Boy-penned Running fails to live up to the rest of the set; All Night sags a little; and the derivative Daddy Issues feels out of place. In general the most recent songs don’t quite have the same impact as her big hits without the accompanying film – ‘Lemonade’ is more of a conceptual statement than a series of catchy singles.

But then Beyoncé isn’t just here for a bit of a jolly sing-song. She’s here for change. She’s here to fight. She’s here to showcase her power. Some of her singles may be absent, but when she does sing the big hits she undoubtedly delivers. It all ends typically enough with an emotional performance of Halo, less a love ballad and more a song for a hopeful future. 

More than that, Beyoncé transcends the typical pop concert. This tour is a clear statement to get in formation. Don’t be a Becky.


4/5

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Beyoncé - Formation World Tour @ Wembley Stadium

Friday, 1 July 2016

New Pop Roundup

Blood Orange – Freetown Sound

Blood Orange – Freetown Sound

Some of the most racially provocative albums to hit the mainstream in recent years have come from across the pond, with Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé leading the pack. Over here we have Dev Hynes a.k.a Blood Orange who released an 11 minute track in July 2015 at the height of Black Lives Matter called Do You See My Skin Through TheFlames. That track signposted the way to ‘Freetown Sound’, a meditation on Hynes’ position in society and sense of identity. Much of that comes through the quotes interspersed throughout the album combining the snapshot-in-time feel of Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’, with the black feminist fire of Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’. Here, though, these voices are frequently and intentionally cut short. There’s a deeper level too, Hynes taking us on a personal journey through his past and present – the album title references Sierra Leone, the birthplace of his father, and the opening lines of Augustine directly reference his parents. The overly long structure, though, means the album is more of a mixtape, a collection of the artist’s thoughts and feelings that perhaps lacks musical focus.

Yet where Kendrick’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ was often fuelled by anger, ‘Freetown Sound’ is a more subtle, sombre lamentation. Fans of Hynes’ work will hear the familiar tropes of 80s pop synths, funk guitars and sorrowful saxophone, here given a beautifully mournful tone under the added weight of the album’s concept. His pop roots shine through on multiple tracks, and there are plenty of cameos from the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, Nelly Furtado and Debbie Harry. ‘Freetown Sound’, then, cleverly combines pop and politics, for a powerful statement subtly unveiled. It’s the sound of summer at its best and its worst.

4/5

Gizzle’s Choice:
* Augustine
* Best To You
* Better Than Me

Listen: 'Freetown Sound' is out now.




Broods - Conscious

Broods - Conscious

Tove Lo sure does get around, doesn’t she? The Swedish popstar has become the featured vocalist du jour in recent months and shows up here on the best track from Broods’ second album, Freak of Nature. “Freak of Mother Nature’s game, I could blame her for my brain,” she sings alongside Georgia Nott in the yearning chorus. Pair Tove’s raw lyrics with the New Zealand duo’s moody synth-pop and the result is typically heart-breaking. Elsewhere, the album is less inclined to wallow in the misery of their debut, with renewed energy, upbeat tempos, and brighter synths in the likes of Free, We Had Everything and Hold The Line. That’s not to say they’ve lost their angst, but this album edges further into pop territory and loses some emotive power in the process. Lorde co-write Heartlines, though, further proves the duo are best in collaboration.

4/5

Gizzle’s Choice:
* Free
* Heartlines
* Freak of Nature

Listen: 'Conscious's is out now.




Demi Lovato - Body Say

Demi Lovato - Body Say

No, it’s not a banger per se, suggesting that Lovato may have peaked with last year’s Cool for the Summer. Instead, this is a steamy sex jam that’s a banger in a different way…if you get my drift…




Rihanna - Sledgehammer

 Rihanna - Sledgehammer

It’s a Sia-penned track with a badly Photoshopped video. This is hardly a worthy way to follow up ‘Anti’.





Sigur Ros - Óveður

 Sigur Ros - Óveður

This is worth watching for the video alone - its grotesque, otherworldly, disturbing vision is enough to give David Lynch nightmares. The song itself is a gently mournful meditation with distorted drums and the weirdly whirring sonic equivalent of that shot from Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Coupled with the video, it’ll make your stomach churn.




Kiiara – Gold

Kiiara – Gold

Gold is this year’s Royals. Snapping beat. Minimalist production. Dark sex appeal. And an infectious chorus, this time full of chopped up vocals.  




All Tvvins - These 4 Words

All Tvvins - These 4 Words

A new track from the indie-electro band, These 4 Words gives strong summer vibes with its funk bass and glittering synths that make way for a soaring, guitar-heavy chorus (“I’m on top of the world!”). It’s a worthy follow up to the stomping Unbelievable to be sure.




Christine and the Queens – Tilted

 Christine and the queens – Tilted

Christine was one of the major talking points of this year’s Glastonbury festival, with a buoyant and infectious performance. Tilted, her new single, doesn’t quite capture that magic alone – it’s a muted affair with warm synths and a French interlude – but if you missed out on her debut album ‘Chaleur Humaine’ earlier in the year, there’s no better time to listen.




Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris - Hype

Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris - Hype

Past collaborations between these two include Dance Wiv Me and Holiday, slightly annoying songs that were pretty much the sound of 2008. Now? They’ve release Hype, a very annoying song that could well define the summer of 2016 in the same way Brexit has cataclysmically ruined UK politics. Well done everyone.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Dinosaur Park @ Wilton's Music Hall

Dinosaur Park @ Wilton's Music Hall

One of my earliest memories is seeing Jurassic Park in the cinema at the age of six, head firmly in my mother’s lap as I practically shat myself watching velociraptors terrorise a couple of kids in a kitchen. As horrifying as it was to watch, the film is a piece of PG entertainment that brought families together. And it still does.

That’s what Dinosaur Park, a comedy from Superbolt Theatre, is capitalising on. It might be advertised as “The Jurassic Parody”, but that’s only half true. In reality this is a family drama wrapped up in a love of cinema. Its conceit is a memorial viewing of the film in honour of a dead mother, but when the actual video tape goes awry her two children and ex-husband are forced to act out the film on-stage instead. And, paralleling the relationship between Sam Neil’s Grant and the two kids he’s forced to protect in the film, the (appropriately named) Park family are brought together through communal appreciation of the film.

Gradually the lines between film recreation and reality blur, as we witness flashbacks of family life told through quotations from the film. It’s all rather sweet, but as a family drama it lacks some bite owing to the stereotypical portrayal of characters – the geeky son, the insular daughter tied to her diary, the father fumbling his way through parenthood – and the cartoonish portrayal of the film undermining any drama. It’s also disappointing that (wavering) Bristolian accents have been used seemingly solely for comic effect.

The show is at its best, then, when it’s mimicking the film. Scene changes come with the three-strong cast hilariously depicting the physicality of different dinosaurs; the gentle parodying of the film is delivered in strong comic fashion, with some spot-on perceptions of certain characters and scenes; and the use of props is charmingly done, from a toy helicopter hovering over the stage accompanied by the sound of a glockenspiel playing the theme tune, to a backpack used as a T-Rex head in one of the film’s most iconic moments that’s surprisingly realistic. There’s even room for a feminist reading of the film (all the dinosaurs are female and can’t be tamed) that is especially perceptive. Throw in some 90s cultural jokes and a very entertaining contemporary soundtrack, and Dinosaur Park makes for an enjoyable evening. It might not be as revolutionary as the film it pokes fun at, but it’s a loving recreation with a touching little family drama to boot.

3/5

Watch: Dinosaur Park runs at Wilton’s Musical Hall until 2nd July.

Dinosaur Park @ Wilton's Music Hall
Photos: Geraint Lewis

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Getaway

Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Getaway

A 33 year career in music is nothing to be sniffed at, especially if you can stay consistently relevant in that time span. That is sadly not the case for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

2002's 'By The Way' was probably the band at peak mainstream appeal, but not since 'Californication' have they done anything particularly interesting or novel. That was 17 years ago.

Incidentally, 'Californication' marked the return of on-off guitarist John Frusciante. He left the band for a second time in 2009, before they released their tenth album 'I'm With You' in 2010 with previous collaborator Josh Klinghoffer. Did anyone even listen to 'I'm With You'?

And will anyone listen to 'The Getaway'? The answer is a resounding "no", the moral of the story being the Chilis are nothing without Frusciante. This eleventh album - an apparent return to glory - is so painfully average, they may as well have recorded the literal sound of a dead horse being flogged.

Without Frusciante, it falls on bassist Flea to try and create some interest with funk basslines that vaguely hint of better days; drummer Chad Smith shuffles along nicely enough; and the vocals of Anthony Kiedis are tired and lifeless as he slowly morphs into that puppet of Iggy Pop on the insurance ads.

The result is an album absolutely devoid of thrills. Perhaps the only exception is Go Robot, which attempts to update the Chilis sound: an initial funk groove is gradually accompanied by subtle use of electronics and hand claps, even if - in typical fashion - the lyrics are just a thinly veiled sexual metaphor.

Elsewhere, though, the music doesn't funk, it doesn't rock, it doesn't even pop. It simply limbers along for 13 tracks, the corpse of the 90s dragged out at half speed without a jolt of electricity. Go Robot aside, not one track is noteworthy - for good or for bad.

'The Getaway', then, is not the sound of a band ageing gracefully. The Chilis have committed a worse crime: of being unimaginably, boringly mediocre.

1/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Go Robot
* Nope, that's it.

Listen: 'The Getaway' is out now, if you really, really must listen.




Sunday, 19 June 2016

Nick Jonas - Last Year Was Complicated

Nick Jonas - Last Year Was Complicated

Usually it's the female popstars who take up the headlines - the Britneys, the Gagas, the Katy Perrys, the Taylor Swifts. But recently there's been a resurgence in male-focused pop. Bieber's comeback was the talking point of last year. Drake is currently dominating the charts. And even Zayn has released an impressive album this year.

Now we can add Nick Jonas to the list. It's been two years since his self-titled solo debut, an album that brought us the smash hit Jealous. With 'Last Year Was Complicated' he's proving that he's finally a "real man".

Taking those contemporaries as reference points, this is a slick album of cold, metallic synths, heavy beats and subtle hints of hip-hop. It's not the most original of sounds, but it's irresistible. Mostly, though, the album is about sex. Jonas has Champagne Problems that sees him doing the nasty rather than breaking up with his girl; he's not afraid to get Close with Sweden's Tove Lo; he touches his girl with "no hands" on Touch; and on Don't Make Me Choose he begs not to choose between his left and right hands, what for is anyone's guess...

He's not afraid to show some emotion - on Chainsaw he threatens to rip up his whole house now "you're gone", sung with a yearning melody over finger clicks. Later he sings "I'll never get over getting under you" on Under You, neatly combining breaking up with sex - his two favourite subject matters.

There's even a song here called Bacon that sums up the whole album as he revels in late nights alone, presumably chomping on some bacon. The lurching beat and rap from Ty Dolla $ign only emphasise this image of manliness, the only thing he loves "more than being with you" is "no ties", "no drama in my life", because apparently women are only good for sex and drama.

Yet who is this hyper-masculinity aimed at? You'd be forgiven for thinking Jonas is determined to rake in that pink pound as he constantly features in gay media, and seems to revel in his newfound status as sex symbol. Is this album really aimed at gay men so shallow they'll lap up this macho image?

More likely, Jonas is actually on a similar trajectory to those women he aims to beat to the top of the charts. Where so many female popstars have shaken off a cutesy young image to become sexually empowered women, Jonas has done the same with this album. Now he's finally a man - it just took some objectification to get there. Welcome to 2016 everyone.

3/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Close
* Chainsaw
* Bacon

Listen: 'Last Year Was Complicated' is out now.


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Dawn Richard @ XOYO

Dawn Richard Blackheart

Dawn Richard is still far from a mainstream name here in the UK, despite her profile in the US as part of Danity Kane and a successful solo career. Yet despite only performing to a small but dedicated crowd at XOYO, this was a superstar performance. “You made it feel like home,” she said as she thanked fans at the end.

What was clear from the outset was the sheer energy of Richard’s performance. Ably accompanied by two on-stage dancers, she hit every accent on every beat with hair flicks, drops and choreography. And it was all delivered with sexual flair: coquettish smirks at the audience followed by impressive athleticism.

What was most impressive, though, was that she maintained her vocals throughout. She may not have the depth of tone of some of her contemporaries, but there’s a purity to her runs and riffs that are sung with total accuracy and strong emotion. That’s true whether she’s singing dance anthems like the appropriately titled Dance and Calypso, or a cover of Wild Horses that samples Crystal Castles’ Not In Love and had plenty of punch.

Still, it’s dance music that Richard excels at and here she’s created quite a niche. Her fusion of RnB, hip-hop, DnB and dance is irresistible, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. There’s an air of experimentation to the production too, ensuring this rises far above the usual EDM fare even if lyrically this isn’t always the richest material. This gig was an invitation into her world – a world of sex, metallic synths, and heavy beats performed with fierce conviction that sits somewhere between the likes of Aaliyah, Beyoncé and FKA Twigs.

That world was certainly consistent, but it does have its limitations. The setlist barely let up, relentlessly driving through over a mere 45 minutes. And it consisted mainly of songs from most recent album ‘Blackheart’ – a nod to preceding album ‘Goldenheart’ would’ve been welcome.

Regardless, Richard proved herself an almighty force with soaring vocals and euphoric beats that deserved a far bigger stage to match her energy – in her final song she even walked through the audience so we could bathe in her glory even closer. “You never lost faith in me,” she sang on opening song Faith. No matter which side of the pond you’re on, there’s no reason to doubt her.

4/5 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Tegan and Sara - Love You To Death

Tegan and Sara - Love You To Death

Yet again, Tegan and Sara have proven that the very best pop comes in small, compact packages. As with 2013’s incredible ‘Heartthrob’, ‘Love You To Death’ has just ten songs that all hover around the three minute mark. And there’s not a bad song amongst them.

And in many more ways, this album is a sequel to the last. It continues the perfectly polished, 80s influenced pop aesthetic of ‘Heartthrob’ and its focus is again on love songs. Yet here the songs are more insular and self-aware, the twins questioning their own thoughts and feelings. “When did I become that girl?” they ask on opener That Girl, “nobody hurts you like me”. For a generally upbeat album that fizzes and bubbles, Tegan and Sara sure like to write dark lyrics – but then, that juxtaposition is what makes happy-sad pop so alluring.

“Put a little of you into my heart / Took a chance and you tore it apart,” they sing on standout Dying To Know, “I’m dying to know, is the one you ended up with everything you wanted?”. Lyrically it might mirror Adele, but it’s accompanied by clipped, processed beats and syncopated synths. Stop Desire may seem like the giddy rush of falling in love, but there’s an edge to the emotion – “I didn’t wanna be so invested / I played it cool and then I overdressed it”.

This reaches a climax with 100x, the album’s core ballad. It’s a gentle, piano-led break-up song that sees the girls lamenting “I swear I tried to leave you at least a hundred times a day”, the lyrics amongst the most raw they’ve written, refreshing in their position as villain rather than victim, heart-breaking in their truth and honesty. And where in other songs the lyrics are masked by pop hooks and vibrant synths, here the emotion is laid bare. It’s an arresting listen and a brave move to unveil such vulnerability.

Things eventually change though – on U-Turn, the girls finally relax. If ‘Love You To Death’ is about personal character development, then this track summarises it all as they learn to “write you the love song you’ve earned” rather than selfishly focusing on themselves.

All this is to say that ‘Love You To Death’ is an album of honesty, reflection and growth; raw human emotion wrapped up in a colourful pop package. There’s more though – with this album the girls are more open about their position as LGBT advocates. There are small moments, like their open use of female pronouns. There’s a nod to equal marriage on BWU, the girls noting “I don’t need a ring to prove that you’re worthy”. And there’s the darker side of gay romance on Boyfriend – “you treat me like your boyfriend,” they sing, “but I don’t want to be your secret anymore”. That said ‘Love You To Death’ shouldn’t be viewed as a gay album, it is simply pop at its most open and honest.

The only downside is what’s come before. ‘Love You To Death’ doesn’t quite have the novelty factor of ‘Heartthrob’, on which the girls experimented with a new pop sound. And there’s the small matter of Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen – Tegan and Sara have a similar sound, but don’t quite have the mainstream clout. That deserves to change.

4/5

Gizzle’s Choice:
* Boyfriend
* Dying To Know
* 100x

Listen: ‘Love You To Death’ is out now.