Concert Reviews

Say Lou Lou at the Garrison

Photographs by Sarah Rix.

Among the stars of TIFF in the city this month, Toronto also received a blast from the 70s rolling through the Garrison Sunday night in the form of Swedish/Australian synth pop duo, Say Lou Lou. The band comprises co-leads, Miranda Anna and Elektra June Kilbey-Jansson (twin sisters) who sing about their heartbreak while running through a blurred delirium of lights and sound, joined by a backing trio guitarist, keyboardist, and drummer all the way from Sweden. 

The sisters make their way to the front stage with grateful smiles and thanks at the sight of the large turnout, and quickly get started with “Everything We Touch”, the first cut off their album that debuted in April, Lucid Dreaming. They keep things high energy and danceable with “Glitter” and “Games for Girls”, featuring the talents of Norwegian synth pop producer Lindstrøm. Much of the album’s production (engineered by fellow Swedish producing team, Addeboy vs. Cliff ) features shimmering synths, like on “Angels (Above Me),” and heavy reverb of their soft, sensual vocals, like on “Nothing But A Heartbeat”. Together, these elements call back to the neon disco floors of Saturday Night Fever. While their ballads, such as “Better In The Dark” that closed out their encore, and “Beloved”, pair soft vocals with driving bass lines. Elektra mentions that “Beloved” is actually a reference to their old record label in the UK, “They kept saying how much they loved Say Lou Lou, but we felt like they were pushing us away from what we thought Say Lou Lou was–so we wrote this and disguised it as a relationship drama, and they loved it!”. It’s no wonder then that the girls released Lucid Dreaming on their own label, à Deux.

Some of the best moments are when Miranda and Elektra take time between their harmonies for their own solos. In these moments, lighting drapes the sisters in stark red and deep blue hues, emphasizing their Farrah Fawcett, over-blushed cheekbones as they share an unbroken, transient stare with the audience. The whole aesthetic becomes especially effective during the rendition of older cut, “Julian”, where their charismatic, Sisterhood-of-the-Travelling-pants relationship becomes part of their performance. Synchronizing moves and sharing insular stares, these moments make it feel like, for the sisters, each other is the only other person in the world.

Say Lou Lou are tackling themes that have become ever more present in our pop environment, feeling sadness in the midst of a good time out. In their music, they almost suggest a remedy for the heartache they sing about; the elation of dance seen through the lens of a blurry neon disco haze, can cure (or at least pacify) any internal struggle that may be had, like feelings of missing someone or somewhere. It makes sense then the show closed with “Love Is The Loneliest Place” (the second song the sisters ever wrote together), “Better In The Dark”, and an invitation to drink with them after the show.

About author

Writer at Live in Limbo. @miknatz.