Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob
Critics are hailing Heartthrob as Tegan and Sara‘s big attempt at commercial success but that thought seems disingenuous. For long time fans of Tegan and Sara forays into pop are nothing new. No one can listen So Jealous and not think that opening track “You Wouldn’t Like Me” did not have pop hit potential. Unfortunately, So Jealous may have been Tegan and Sara’s first album but it was also their last pop album. Since then the duo has experimented with mid-tempo ballads, blues-rock, and angular rock. On Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara get back into the pop game but with a new synthesized make over.
The album’s opening track and lead single, “Closer” is an arena-sized pop track. Filled with Lady Gaga-esque fervor and tinged with 80s synths and drums, the track lauched their album to #3 on the Billboard 200 chart. The track is a little overly sexual for Tegan and Sara. They sing “All you think of lately is getting underneath me/All I’m dreaming lately is how to get you underneath me.” The bluntness of the lyrics are a little hamhanded for a group that has been known for their emotional abilities.
Luckily the single doesn’t necessarily represent the entire album. The album’s best track might very well be “How Come You Don’t Want Me?” The track starts off like an 80s pop ballad. Sparse drums and blippy synths back the kind of lyrics fans are used to from Tegan and Sara. They sing “I can’t say that I’m sorry/For loving you and hating myself.” The common theme of self-loathing and heartache sound oddly similar to “You Wouldn’t Like Me” from their debut album. As the song hits the chorus, the pain in the duo’s vocals becomes apparent as the drums pick up. The vocal hook on the line “How come you always leave me/Or never take my call, hear me out” is perhaps the greatest pop moment of Tegan and Sara’s career.
With that, Heartthrob might be the finest album of Tegan and Sara’s career. While it has its flaws, it is still a good pop record. If Tegan and Sara fans can overlook synths replacing guitars in their formula, they will find its a very worthwhile listen.
MP3: Tegan and Sara “How Come You Don’t Want Me?”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl