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Drew Beringer 01/22/13 04:01 AM

Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob
 
Tegan and SaraHeartthrob
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Record Label: Warner Bros.


Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

For some reason this quote from the 2000 flick High Fidelity continues to pop into my head anytime I finish listening to Tegan and Sara’s latest album Heartthrob. Now, I’m not saying that this album makes me miserable (quite the opposite really). Rather, the reason I can’t shake that quote is because Heartthrob excels at disguising its darker lyrical content with bright, up-tempo electronica flourishes. And there are a lot of electronic touches throughout Heartthrob, as Tegan and Sara trade in their guitars for keys and synthesizers. This is a full-fledged pop album and that may be shocking to some. But make no mistake: Heartthrob is undoubtedly Tegan and Sara’s best album.

But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize that the duo has been inching closer and closer to this type of sound over the course of the last few Tegan and Sara records (as well as their cameos on dance tracks from EDM artists Tiesto and Morgan Page). The band has been churning out three minute pop delicacies since So Jealous and on Heartthrob, they’ve perfected it. Honestly, I’ve been waiting for this change of pace in the duo’s music and I couldn’t be happier with how Heartthrob turned out. The twin sisters have pushed themselves creatively and musically, creating something truly special. The ten-track LP was co-produced by Greg Kurstin and Mike Elizondo (two producers who’ve worked with the likes of Ke$ha, Lily Allen, Sia, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, and Maroon 5), leading to a pristine and massive sounding record. Songs like “Drove Me Wild” and single “Closer” are perfect examples – both have huge, infectious choruses that are paced by a dizzying array of vibrant keys and buzzing synth. It was a no-brainer for the sisters to work with this production team, launching Tegan and Sara’s songwriting to new heights.

Despite all that, Heartthrob would just be another pop album if it was all style with no substance. Thankfully, Tegan and Sara supply plenty of it; Heartthrob contains some the duo’s most personal lyrical content yet. And even though they are both in healthy relationships, that didn’t stop the sisters from going back and deconstructing past and current relationships, divulging specific fears and insecurities. The stop-and-go “Goodbye, Goodbye” details getting out of a dead-end relationship over a ridiculously catchy hook (“You never really knew me/never ever/never ever saw me/saw me like they did./You never really loved me/never really/never really loved me/loved me like they did”). “How Come You Don’t Want Me” is an exercise in heartbreak, while drums and bass pulsate throughout the poignant power ballad “Now I’m All Messed Up” as Sara intensely exclaims, “Go if you want./ I can’t stop you.”

Heartthrob isn’t all desolation however. The aforementioned “Closer” retells those excited yet anxious moments of new love, while “Love They Say” is incredibly optimistic (and features some of the album’s rare guitar work). There are also songs of empowerment; moving on in life despite the crappiness that may be surrounding it. On the surface, ‘80s power jam “I Was A Fool” seems like another sad chapter but beneath it is a person who stuck through the rough patches of a relationship. There may not always be a happy ending, but the song shows a side of toughness and bravery of not running away at the first sign of trouble. The discordant closer “Shock To Your System” also relays a message of standing strong amongst bad times. An off-kilter drumbeat and simmering keys set the tone as Sara battles loneliness and insists on moving on (“You got a shock to your system/Pull yourself out of it/I know that shock to your system/Knocked your heart right out of sync”). These are bittersweet anthems and few groups do it better than Tegan and Sara.

So what came first, the music or the misery? Honestly, I don’t think it really matters when an album is this good. It’s a liberating album for the Quin sisters; Heartthrob isn’t an album that sugarcoats relationships, but it also doesn’t wallow in self-pity. There is a perfect balance present here, and its consistent up-tempo beat gives Tegan and Sara a different kind of liveliness than their previous albums. Heartthrob couldn’t be a more perfect title - the theme of being so in love with someone - almost obsessively - and not having that love reciprocated and dealing with that reality is constant throughout. It's an infatuation; something many will encounter after hearing this record.

9/10

georgedcc 01/22/13 04:42 AM

Great review, looking forward to some pop gold with this.

gloriousmuse 01/22/13 05:18 AM

ah, so excited! great review!

tell that mick 01/22/13 05:29 AM

This albums is phenomenal. Great review, Drew.

samlowry09 01/22/13 06:12 AM

I wish it came out today.

Jaytothesyg 01/22/13 06:24 AM

Great review. Excited to hear this

Keagan Ilvonen 01/22/13 07:05 AM

Wooooo!

theskycouldfly 01/22/13 08:31 AM

wish more reviews were objective like this.. good work sir

plus i can't wait for this album.

x0kristennn 01/22/13 08:34 AM

Stoked to hear this.

SpyKi 01/22/13 08:41 AM

So fucking excited for this.

TachyonEvan 01/22/13 09:45 AM

Like this review, glad to hear that they still haven't missed a beat.

Clark 01/22/13 10:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theskycouldfly (Post 118036752)
wish more reviews were objective like this.. good work sir

plus i can't wait for this album.

What? This review - like all reviews - is extremely subjective. And that's not a bad thing.

Mirrorsandfevers 01/22/13 10:05 AM

I can't wait to listen to this.

Recovery Room 01/22/13 10:23 AM

Been waiting for them to really embrace this style and sound, can't wait to hear this.

billcom6 01/22/13 10:30 AM

Congratulations Drew. You actually made me not only interested in, but excited to listen to a Tegan and Sara album.

Matt Chylak 01/22/13 11:00 AM

I've never felt inclined to listen to a T&S record before this, but your review has me interested. Nice job.

theotheryabs 01/22/13 11:45 AM

Didn't another staffer start with that exact quote in a review of Wildlife?

Drew Beringer 01/22/13 11:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theotheryabs (Post 118046252)
Didn't another staffer start with that exact quote in a review of Wildlife?

lol maybe!

AndyPKilla 01/22/13 12:14 PM

I am ecstatic to listen to this. I really have had little to cheer about in the pop demographic in the past five years, but Tegan And Sara are making it nearly impossible to ignore the genre right now. Everything I've heard so far indicates a really smooth album on their part. They've changed, but for the better. Can't wait.

Maiaophilia 01/22/13 01:56 PM

I've been waiting for this album for a while. I'm so stoked to listen to it soon!

Manufactured Dreams 01/22/13 02:34 PM

Great review! Can't wait to hear this.

Bigballsinyoazz 01/22/13 02:58 PM

Some of the songs are catchy at the same time it's they're completely forgettable, a couple listens and I didn't want to listen to them again, ie. "fool for love" and "closer" which sounds like any carly rae jepsen pop song or most of today's synth pop radio songs.

mkohler 01/22/13 04:00 PM

I want this soooo bad.

Docta Phil 01/22/13 05:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Clark (Post 118041642)
What? This review - like all reviews - is extremely subjective. And that's not a bad thing.

those are easy words to get mixed up

mrnegativezero 01/22/13 10:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 118046442)
lol maybe!


ha. I wouldn't be surprised if that quote isn't all over AP.

Combining that association with my anticipation for this record (and another good review that just hypes me up more) just makes the week wait unbearable.

heyzombiehitler 01/22/13 10:56 PM

Not their best lyrics sometimes, but pretty solid.

Keagan Ilvonen 01/22/13 11:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theotheryabs (Post 118046252)
Didn't another staffer start with that exact quote in a review of Wildlife?


Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 118046442)
lol maybe!


hah, yep!
http://absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=2463862

SpyKi 01/23/13 12:35 AM

Loving this album.

carcrashofahart 01/23/13 02:03 PM

oh, god, i can't wait for this!

Ryan Gardner 01/23/13 02:09 PM

Cannot wait for this

me7719 01/23/13 05:22 PM

Agree completely with the review, cant wait to get my vinyl copy as soon as it ships. This album is gonna make them blow up.

mkohler 01/24/13 12:12 PM

I'm in love with this album. Early highlights for me are I Was A Fool, I'm Not Your Hero, How Come You Don't Want Me, Love They Say, Now I'm All Messed Up, and Goodbye, Goodbye. Basically the whole album hahaha.

themagicrat 01/26/13 04:51 AM

Goddamn this record is catchy. And amazingly polished. These two just keep on getting better, ridiculous.

Mr. November 01/26/13 12:13 PM

drove me wild could have been on the drive soundtrack

ratmachine182 01/26/13 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr. November (Post 118237822)
drove me wild could have been on the drive soundtrack

I actually thought the exact same thing oddly enough. fuck did that movie ever have an awesome soundtrack (and cinematography)

Keagan Ilvonen 01/26/13 04:22 PM

I Was A Fool is my jam.

likedyingy0ung 01/27/13 12:35 AM

Great album, but So Jealous and The Con will always and forever remain the best Tegan and Sara albums.

providence36 01/27/13 09:00 AM

I Was A Fool is such a great song, my favorite at the moment for sure. Album is amazing, hope it sells well

BigEasy14 01/28/13 07:42 AM

So, this is definitely worth picking up? I was a fan of The Con and Sainthood, never really ventured into the earlier releases though.

Matt Chylak 01/29/13 07:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr. November (Post 118237822)
drove me wild could have been on the drive soundtrack

"How Come You Don't Want Me" would fit even better

drudo182 01/29/13 07:46 AM

"Drove Me Wild" is crazy good.

kaylasananjou 01/29/13 07:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BigEasy14 (Post 118306422)
So, this is definitely worth picking up? I was a fan of The Con and Sainthood, never really ventured into the earlier releases though.

I'd say so. It's a natural follow-up to Sainthood, if you ask me. As for pre-Con material, I'd say give So Jealous a whirl. Before that, there are a few standout tracks on their first albums, but I wouldn't say that the whole product is anything amazing. Also, check out their acoustic live album, Get Along. Has the best version of "Not With You."

ALT/MSC/FAN 01/29/13 08:59 AM

Solid work, Drew. I've been meaning to listen to T&S for the longest time, and this is enough motivation for me to finally, haha.

Entoine 01/29/13 09:12 AM

Album is very good. I was affraid of the synthpop turn in their sound, but when it's done as good as this, I can't complain.

Memphis 01/29/13 12:21 PM

Yes. It is really THAT good. :)

theredline 01/29/13 01:50 PM

Great record...

runningohfive 01/29/13 04:15 PM

I fucking love it!

CBKRP 01/29/13 06:16 PM

A perfect pop record, T&S deserve everything and more with this release. God it felt good to pick up the CD and be blown away in my car on the way home

70timesseven 01/29/13 07:00 PM

I've always liked Tegan and Sara, but this album makes me LOVE them. It is seriously, so good. What a great album to start off 2013 with.

WhatJulianSaid 01/29/13 07:15 PM

Not even into their other stuff but I'm really digging this release.