“I won’t treat you like your typical,” say the sisters Quinn on Heartthrob, the seventh studio album from Tegan and Sara, and they could be speaking of their fans, their songs, or themselves. Having spent about half their lives writing, recording and playing music, the 32 year old siblings couldn’t be expected to still sound like the folk-pop duo they were when they started out, so it’s really hard to pin down a clear description of what a “typical” Tegan and Sara song sounds like beyond saying that it’ll have flawless harmonies, humble, confessional lyrics, and an acute understanding of dramatic tension. Whether they do all that set against the backdrop of coffee house strumming or nightclub-ready thumping beats is a moot point. Tegan and Sara have been at this long enough that they deserve having the songs speak for themselves.
That’s not how the music world works, though. The Quinn sisters have been plastered all over the ‘net these past weeks, debuting the 10 songs on Heartthrob and giving track-by-track breakdowns to try and sell home the point that underneath the glossy synth-pop production they’re the same girls they’ve always been. But they’re not the same anymore. Heartthrob is a full out statement of intent, a bigger, bolder move forward than their last album Sainthood was, and notice that Tegan and Sara are ready for the pop spotlight.
And they do so not with sugary, vapid throw-away pop songs but with sticky sweet missives about deteriorating friendships (“I Couldn’t Be Your Friend”), intense love affairs (“How Come You Don’t Want Me”), changing tastes (“Goodbye Goodbye”), and not living up to other expectations. (“I’m Not Your Hero”). They may have worked with Ke$ha’s producer, but this record isn’t full of “Tick Tock” 2.0. Their evolution has been organic, and unapologetic; as sure as Tegan and Sara pick up new fans with Heartthrob they’ll lose some long-time admirers who’ll be sure to feel alienated by the cool, synthetic sounds of “Shock to Your System”. It’ll be those disenchanted fans’ loss; Heartthrob will renew your faith in pop music and remind you that it can be much more than typical.
Heartthrob is out today on Warner Bros.
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