Review Summary: Tegan and Sara synth pop their cherry with their remarkable 7th studio album Heartthrob
Tegan and Sara have changed a lot since their humble Canadian beginnings. They started off in high school making acoustic folk type stuff and released three albums that didn't quite catch on with the mainstream, but helped build a decent fanbase. Then in 2004 they released So Jealous
and had their music featured on Grey's Anatomy
and people started paying attention. Then they build upon this newfound and much larger fanbase by perfecting their indie rock sound with The Con
In 2013, the twin sister duo decided to shake things up a bit and release a straight up synth pop album, risking alienating their rather dedicated fanbase in the process. Fortunately for all involved, strong songwriting and passion can carry through in any genre, and Tegan and Sara's 7th studio album Heartthrob
is a splendid and refreshing pop album.
While previous Tegan and Sara sounded like something someone with a rather large portion of alt/indie in their pie chart would enjoy, Heartthrob
is straight up pop for the masses. It's easy to say a band has sold out when making a record like this, but the honest lyrics and strong songwriting prove that Tegan and Sara have their hearts placed firmly in the music featured in Heartthrob.
Much like this paragraph, a common complaint against the previous effort The Con was that the songs were underdeveloped and didn't go anywhere. This is no longer the case as on Heartthrob
the gals' songwriting styles have finally started to blend, resulting in ten well crafted and cohesive songs. Heartthrob
is easily the duo's most consistent record and proves that Tegan and Sara know how to make a great record regardless of the genre.
The instrumentation on Heartthrob
is definitely a departure from the band's acoustic roots, as Tegan and Sara have traded in their guitars for synths and electronic drum kits. The switch in instrumentation allows for much deeper production with plenty of subtle things going on in the background in tracks like "I'm Not Your Hero" and "Love They Say." There's still some guitar and piano sprinkled in of course, like in "Drove Me Wild" and "Now I'm All Messed Up" that adds some nice variety to the record. Overall, the switch to electronic instruments doesn't effect the flavor of Tegan and Sara's music that much because all of the feel of the vocals is still present. Emphasis on the vocals is stronger than ever on Heartthrob,
and Tegan and Sara's passionate voices easily carry the record.
is a very nostalgic record, hearkening back to the innocence of high school romance when all anyone wanted to do was hold hands. Songs like "Drove Me Wild" and "Now I'm All Messed Up" are so innocent and sincere they can't help but hit hard. Heartthrob
also has a darker side that's not as common in pop. Songs like "Goodbye, Goodbye" and "How Come You Don't Want Me" contrast the catchy synth pop sound with lyrics about heartbreak and disappointment. Tegan and Sara's ability to master all facets of the emotional spectrum in under 35 minutes is rather impressive. The biggest strength Heartthrob
possesses is its ability to sound fresh and modern in the instrumentation, while still maintaining an almost high school vibe with the lyrics and overall mood. Heartthrob
may be a departure musically, but Tegan and Sara are still the same band with a consistent discography that we grew to love.