Music Review: Tegan And Sara’s ‘Heartthrob’

sara1It’s pretty understandable why some Tegan And Sara fans are a little bit ticked that the Canadian duo have thrown away their previous alternative ways for an electronic-heavy pop kind of sound. And while some would say that Tegan And Sara “sold out,” I say nay – they are just changing things up like artists should. However, with their latest effort Heartthrob might have been shook up too much, making it one catchy – and repetitive – outing.

The opener “Closer” is a sexy party jam, and already a frontrunner for Best Party Song of 2013. It’s lyrics aren’t necessarily a good focal point (even though most T&S songs are), but it’s simplicity goes a long way to how catchy this song really is. “Goodbye, Goodbye” follows the same kind of format, but has a bit more lyrical strength to it. “I Was a Fool” has some gorgeous tandem singing from the twins throughout it, making it one of the more memorable slow jams on Heartthrob. A favorite of mine, “I’m Not Your Hero” is the strongest and most uplifting Tegan and Sara are throughout this album. The lyrics are there ten fold (“Learning all I know now, losing all I did/I never used to feel like I’d be standing so far ahead), and the song progression makes this the closest to any of their previous works.

Unlike some recent albums I’ve reviewed, Heartthrob kind of tails off towards the end. “Shock To Your System” is the wrong song to end the album on; the slow methodicalness of it all was just plain boring. “Now I’m All Messed Up” started out sounding like a nice, gentle piano ballad, but the chorus and lyrics just dragged it down for me. And for some reason, “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend” sounds like it was produced and ready to be sung by someone like Katy Perry; it was just too bubbly (taking the sound of the song – not subject matter) to be a T&S song. Though saying that, the majority of the album is just as perky and seemingly out of place.

Earlier in the review, I mentioned that the album is a bit repetitive, and there is no mistaking that. All of the ballads sound relatively the same, as well as the poppy radio hits – creating an almost deja vu with the entire album. The subject matter of love – whether it be getting into a relationship or falling out of one – plays itself out halfway through and gets rather annoying when you get to the end. Lastly, there’s this glossy sheen that covers this album from front-to-back that is not doing it for me. Producer Greg Kurstin (who has recently done songs for Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson, and P!nk) gives Heartthrob a synthetic feel that happens to mask most of the instrumentation happening throughout the album. I originally loved Tegan And Sara for their imperfections scattered throughout their albums, and it seemed like it was filtered out to be as perfect as possible – which makes Heartthrob feel a bit fake to me.

I have to give the Quin sisters’ props where its due – switching over to this kind of electro pop a decade in your career and not giving a fuck if you like it or not shows their overall confidence on their product. And that shows a great deal throughout Heartthrob (the first half at least). However, this makes me miss the days where you don’t have to bare down listening to my speakers hoping to hear some added instrumentation to the mix, and just enjoy a duo who knows how to make good music. Heartthrob isn’t for everyone, but there are one or two songs that should be universally loved by all of their fans.

Final Grade: B-
Go Download: “I’m Not Your Hero,” “Closer”

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