our resident heartthrob jason stives reviews the latest Tegan and Sara record…
Imagining Canadian sister duo Tegan and Sara producing a purely pop record isn’t too much of a stretch. Over six albums these women have constructed a brand of indie pop that has become more akin to mainstream sensibilities allowing their sound to become increasingly accessible. On their latest record Heartthrob, many of the techniques used on prior releases have been utilized to dizzying and often danceable results, but it’s a record that takes some getting used to thanks to its 1980’s style sheen.
The album’s opening track as well as its lead single “Closer” brandishes nothing but 80s pop punches reminiscent of a Kim Carnes or even Berlin echoing with dreamy vocal effects and pulsing backbeats. But before the album can go into over glossy hyper drive, the tempo shifts into more contemporary electronic indie music. “Goodbye, Goodbye” could paint a modern day nightclub more than it could the disco-feel of some of the album’s other numbers.
The shift in sound doesn’t really come unexpectedly as they displayed on their previous record Sainthood a push for a more slick production. It helps that the Quinn sisters are lyrical magicians and tug at the heart. The rapture of their lyrics work even against some of the more over produced numbers this album has to offer. Songs like “Drives Me Wild” pant with anticipation and curl toes with persistent movement. Other stand outs like “I’m Not Your Hero” could easily be a number written by Fleetwood Mac during their Mirage-era and that’s not a bad thing — it shines with as much lyrical poise and care as it does slick rhythm and melody.
The one thing that feels lost is the unique harmonizing they proudly display on all their records. Most of this is overtaken by the heightened presence of synthesizers, an instrument not unfamiliar to a Tegan and Sara record, but far more prominent this time round. Still, it forces the sisters to put as much feel into the way they possess the spirit of each song. “How Come You Don’t Want Me” doesn’t string along any longing as it does frustration and demanding attention and want.
The closest track that can compare to the Tegan & Sara of old is the ballad “Love They Say” which could easily be an early 90s number by Wilson Phillips but it’s the Quinn sister’s own brand of ardor and feeling that makes it seem more at home in their discography.
Heartthrob is ultimately what has been hammered away at in the previous paragraphs; a sizable effort at giving the sisters mainstream pop appeal while keeping the personal integrity that normally accompanies their music and continues a solid run of records that build with each passing release.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Very Good)