Tegan and Sara Quin have been pumping out music for the last fifteen years, but I’m a bit of a newcomer to their world. I’d heard some songs here and there over the past decade but first gave them a listen on 2007’s The Con. I’m a sucker for a female vocalist, so I was at least partially interested based on that alone – let alone their indie pop leanings, yet I still never hunkered down and paid attention to them. Eventually, my love affair with their music came with 2009’s Sainthood. Lyrically, that album blew me away, and I’m glad to say that their new (and seventh) album, Heartthrob, continues the standard of romantically splendid lyrics and enthusiastic beats.
Heartthrob was preceded by a top notch single, “Closer”, which is a tantalizing anthem that exposes the (especially physical) thoughts we really have when we first meet that new crush. “Closer” starts the album off with a bang, preparing you for the mood to follow. The sound doesn’t let up for much of the album, pausing only slightly in more reflective songs like “I Was a Fool” and “Love They Say”. The pace never truly slows though, as the twin duo races to the end of a seemingly short album that comes in at only 36 minutes. If I had any gripes about this, it would be that by the end of the album, it only left me wanting more. Tegan and Sara tend to have quicker albums, of course, and with tracks such as the empowering “Goodbye, Goodbye” and the embittered “How Come You Don’t Want Me”, you see that their talent tends to be in swift melodies.
The ethereal tone reminds me of early 90s bands such as The Cranberries, albeit with a more modern sensibility. Heartthrob’s piano-driven style blends well with the synth-heavy production, allowing for a more electronic sound that reveals their recent predilection towards dance-pop. I’m glad for this, as it feels like Tegan and Sara’s sound has been increasingly drifting towards dance over the past few years. Previously they relied on guitar and drums to drive the beat, and I find myself leaning towards this as a more marketable sound, at least for the times.
While one sister warbles over the other ‘Led you astray, I won’t deny it’ in “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend”, you can feel the heartache throbbing back at you through your speakers. I knew I was in for a treat with this album. Most of their music is about new love and fresh loss just the same, but Tegan and Sara are at their best when they sing about what might have been. This album is certainly full of that, with cuts like the desperate How Come You Don’t Want Me and the nostalgic “Drove Me Wild”.
As Valentine’s Day prepares to rear its ugly/beautiful head, it’s albums such as this that can put anyone in a good mood – whether they are alone or with people. I’m happy to say that this lifted me up at the right time, in the middle of the January doldrums, and will very likely be one of my favorites for 2013. I recommend Heartthrob as a potential Valentine’s gift for those indie-minded romantics you know, or if your significant other is a fan of indie dance pop from the Great White North, then this is right up their alley.
Key tracks: Drove Me Wild, I Was a Fool