Tegan and Sara
Jan 25, 2013 Issue #44 - Best of 2012 - Grimes
When Tegan Quin spoke to Under the Radar about this then-untitled record in early 2012, she expressed feelings that it could be a door-opening album for the band. "I feel like we've hit on something that's going to allow people to connect to it and get into it," she said. "Just like Ace of Base."
While citing those Swedish pop superstars as an influence may have been a joke on Tegan's part, it isn't entirely off-base, pun unintended. Tegan and Sara's seventh studio record is their slickest, most broadly-appealing effort yet. It shares some commonalities with the duo's more poppy, New Wave-embracing mid-career records, yet Heartthrob isn't just the So Jealous formula on retread so much as it's that formula refined. From the bubbling synthesizers on "Closer" to the racing keyboard riffs of "Drove Me Wild," this is Tegan and Sara in arena-ready mode; the mix goes wall-to-wall in each and every track, filling all corners of the soundscape with digital pulses and vocal effects. Heartthrob is easily the duo's biggest-sounding album.
Tegan and Sara brought on board a wide variety of producers for this record, selecting them on a track-by-track basis; this gives each song an individual flavor and focus. Even the record's heartbreak ballad, "How Come You Don't Want Me," boasts a shimmering New Romantic gloss. The sisters tackle this audio upgrade without losing any of their charm; under all of the studio wizardry, their songwriting is the heart of their music. Few other bands could come out of such a sonic makeover sounding this revitalized.
If there's one thing keeping Heartthrob from being truly transcendent, it's that there's not any one hook or track that's as wholly unshakeable as those on previous albums, thinking back to songs such as "Walking With a Ghost" and "Back In Your Head," which had a tendency to spin on repeat in your brain after a single listen. However, saying one album's best song isn't as good another album's best song is just nitpicking; the across-the-board quality of Heartthrob earns it the merit as yet another high point in the Tegan and Sara discography.
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10