Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hey, I'm writing about music again! Album Review: Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob (2013)

Canadian sisterly duo Tegan and Sara Quin seem to think they’re fools in relationships. Just look at some of their song titles—“Fool to Cry,” “I Was A Fool,” etc. Something they’re not fools about? Making synth pop perfection on their latest full-length album, Heartthrob, their first since 2009’s Sainthood which was a huge commercial success for them. After an album like Sainthood happens for a band, it can be tough to follow up, but after listening to Heartthrob all the way through, you’ll know why this won’t be an issue for them.

They start with their safe single “Closer.” Not to sound like Stefan from Saturday Night Live but this song has everything: lyrics about heartbreak and miscommunication, catchy, synthesized bliss, and a chorus any music lover would appreciate.

I find myself comparing a lot of the songs to ‘80s music. “I Was A Fool,” the third track on the album, sounds like it could also be in the discographies of Pat Benatar or Heart. “How Come You Don’t Want Me” and “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend” remind me of songs that were the soundtrack to John Hughes movies. If you’re a new wave or synth pop fan, this also means you’ll definitely be happy about this album.

Tegan and Sara have lyrics on this album that makes your heart hurt because it’s so realistic to everyday relationships. From “Now I’m All Messed Up:” “You'll cut it out/ you never liked me anyway/Why do you take me down this road/If you don't wanna walk with me?/Why do you exist all alone/When you could just talk to me?” I think my point has been officially made. No explanation necessary.

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Justin Meldal-Johnsen, whose name I keep reading about lately, produced this album along with Greg Kurstin (P!nk, The Bird and the Bee) and Mike Elizondo (many rap artists, Kimbra, Regina Spektor). Meldal-Johnsen is going to have a good year—he’s also producing an upcoming album for Paramore. If Tegan and Sara’s newest is any indication of his work, he probably will be around more often.

I’m trying to think of any songs I wasn’t particularly enamored with. Guess what? I can’t think of any. The album is short, but quality is always better than quantity. I think they’ve always been influenced with new wave and synth music, but it hasn’t been as overtly obvious as it is on Heartthrob. The Con and Sainthood, their two albums before Heartthrob, had angst and were way more rock-influenced. Heartthrob definitely carries angst as well, but in a different way than the others. I love when you can detect these things in an album and notice a band growing like they’ve done in recent years.

Hopefully this album will be known as one of their best, because I think it is. Whoever broke up with these ladies, it’s them we should also be thanking, having inspired them to make something beautiful out of something that might not have been so beautiful.

x-posted in Scene Point Blank