It would be easy to dismiss ‘Heartthrob’ as a sellout album. For their seventh studio record, Tegan and Sara hired producer Greg Kurstin (Ke$sa, Pink, Rita Ora, Kelly Clarkson) and have added a synth-pop element to their songs. For most artists this would be a sign of style replacing substance, especially when you consider that the majority of tracks on the album are hook laden relationship songs.
However, fans of Tegan and Sara will be quick to point out that their songs have always been crafted this way. The only difference between ‘Heartthrob’ and any of their other albums, with the possible exception of ‘The Con’, is that their acoustic guitars have been replaced with 80’s inspired synthesizers. The result is a fuller sound that is more radio friendly than any of their previous albums.
The album starts off with Closer, a song about the infatuation you feel for a crush before love enters the picture. Those obsessive emotions are captured perfectly in the lyrics and are wrapped up in a pop gem that is sure to be a radio hit.
Goodbye, Goodbye is a very catchy tune that would have felt at home on MTV in its heyday. Underneath the glossy exterior however, lies a very sad song about a broken relationship. I Was a Fool is a power pop ballad that may be the catchiest song on the album.
Tegan and Sara’s I’m Not Your Hero
The next song, I’m Not Your Hero, is a song written to their fan base about their change of sound. I’m not your hero / But that doesn’t mean we’re not one and the same is sums it up perfectly. Their fans might like their new sound, but underneath the gloss they are the same band they have always been.
Drove Me Wild and How Come You Don’t Want Me are influenced by 80’s music the most, which is saying something since the entire record owes its production to that period. The subject matter of the two songs is miles apart, Drove Me Wild is an ode to a former lover that is thought of favorably and How Come You Don’t Want Me is about leaving a troubled relationship. I Couldn’t Be Your Friend is the final statement to the person in the previous song.
The most positive song on the album is Love They Say, which could be a popular wedding song for years to come. Love, they say it heals all wounds / Love removes the hurt in you /Love, I know that this is true offers hope that true love exists and can be everything you wish it to be.
The R&B flavor of Now I’m All Messed Up is a new wrinkle in the Tegan and Sara portfolio. The chorus states Go / Go / Go if you want / I can’t stop you, but towards the end of the song the background vocals tell an entirely different story pleading Please Stay. It is easy to imagine this song is written to the same fan base that I’m Not Your Hero is.
The album ends with Shock to Your System, which is a song urging you to take a chance on love. The deluxe version of the album includes two other tracks Guilty as Charged and I Run Empty, which are both at their core about missing someone.
Heartthrob might be a departure from their signature style, but sometimes change is a good thing. If you are willing to give this CD a chance you will find that all of the ingredients that made Tegan and Sara an Indie Rock favorite are here, just wrapped up in a different package.
Written by Adam Gibson
OurVinyl | Contributor
[To purchase this album on iTunes just click here]