As their seventeenth studio album, “Heartthrob” is Canadian rock duo Tegan and Sara’s most ambitious and experimental album yet. As a long time fan of Tegan and Sara myself, I was a huge fan of the melodic and angsty indie-rock sound that was uniquely theirs. For this reason, hearing this album for the first time was, to say the least, a little painful. But for those interested in something a little newer and refreshing, this album is perfect. Considering the fact that this duo has such a large established fanbase, I would like to congratulate them for being brave enough to take their music and venture into new territory to create an album like any they have before.
Their new sound is introduced right away with the first song on the album, “Closer.” Three seconds into the song, listeners are given a taste of how far the duo has come. Instead of the guitar rhythms that used to take center stage, ”Closer” has synth rhythms and a mix of electronic tunes. Dealing with the excitement and nervousness of a new romance, the song balances sweet lines about wanting to be closer to another human being. With lines such as “All I want to get is a little closer” and “Here comes the rush before we touch, come a little closer,” the song is a good introduction to the duo’s new sound and the overall sound of the album.
With their new pop-anthem sound, it is clear that Tegan and Sara are aiming to reach a new audience; an audience that enjoys catchy, poppy tunes. “I’m Not Your Hero,” a standout tune on the album, blends arpeggios of electronic bleeps with the hard strumming of a guitar as it accompanies lines that discuss the troubles that come with the pressure to be someone’s hero.
Die-hard fans will still find things to like about the album. Some will most likely enjoy “Love They Say,” the only song on the album that features the group’s signature acoustic guitar strumming. Others may enjoy the ballad-esque rhythm of “How Come You Don’t Want Me,” with lines such as “One day soon, I won’t be the one who waits for you,” dealing with themes of self-doubt.
Even if they left behind their guitar-laden sounds for pop anthems, Tegan and Sara still manage to show the music industry just how versatile they are while keeping true to their unique vocal sound of tight harmonizing and airily sweet voices. Mixing carefully articulated pop sounds with new wave as well as techno compressed beats through the use of synthesizers, the duo manages to create unbelievably catchy tunes. While it may take awhile to get accustomed to the new sound for the die-hard Tegan and Sara fans, it is clear that the angsty lyrics dealing with the highs and lows of love have not gone anywhere. The music is fun and the lyrics are still just as intelligent and poetic as ever.