By Chris Moore:
Heartthrob (Tegan and Sara)
Producer: Greg Kurstin, Mike Elizondo, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, & Rob Cavallo
Released: January 29, 2013
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Top Two Tracks: “Drove Me Wild” & “Closer”
When I read in advance that Tegan and Sara had “gone pop” for their latest album, my first response was one of profound hesitation. After all, I’ve found the band’s previous efforts to lack a certain dynamic energy that I’ve always felt was possible, and it has in large part been their identity as co-songwriters and musicians that has kept me coming back for more. On Heartthrob, the former remains but the latter has been somewhat displaced by the practicalities of pop music (i.e., programming and the like). However, much to my surprise, this new approach to their sound has reinvigorated their music and unforeseen strengths in their style have arisen. In short, pop suits them. From the infectiously catchy opener and lead single “Closer” (with a wonderfully conspicuous wink on the chorus line embellishment, made literal in the music video) to the retro-flavored gem “Drove Me Wild,” the songs maintain a uniform sound, but always with a hook or other appeal. On previous efforts, as I’ve written, I’ve found Tegan and Sara’s music to suffer at times from the “half and done” songwriting under which there are no new movements or lyrics after the halfway point. Here, where that does happen, it blends in and works, and my best guess as to why I feel this way is that pop music operates under different rules than rock. If you’re interested in a flashback to the eighties blended with a clear dose of the contemporary, a band with rock sensibilities turned pop, Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob is probably the next album for you. I know that, for me, it has been difficult to break the circuit with this, their latest eminently listenable and fun record, on numerous occasions.