It's been a long time since Tegan and Sara's 1999 debut album Under Feet Like Ours, and their seventh studio recording, Heartthrob, shows just how far they've come. Their latest release is ten tracks of electro-pop at its best, with drums, vocals, and synths coming together in perfectly constructed dance music. Fans will notice that the sound of this album is markedly different from most of the duo’s previous work, but this seems to be what they have been working towards. On Heartthrob, their sound is fuller, cleaner, and more coherent than ever before.
What really sets this album apart is the intensely personal and often-melancholic lyrical content. Buried beneath catchy hooks and tap-along rhythms are tales of heartbreak, regret and contemplation. “Now I'm All Messed Up” reflects on a breakup, with the singer trying desperately to forget and move on. A personal favourite is “I'm Not Your Hero”, which seems to represent the struggle between the expectations of hero-worship with the realistic limitations of any one person. As the chorus states, “I never walked the party line, but that doesn't mean that I was never afraid.”
“Closer”, the album’s opening track and lead single, is more optimistic in tone, expressing the hope and yearning of a new relationship and the mix of physical and emotional desires. In fact, this album seems to run the gamut of potential relationships, describing the good and bad, the strong and weak, and everything in between. The title Heartthrob is well earned.
At first listen, this album is catchy, upbeat, well-composed electro-pop. That should be enough to merit listening, but the real staying power comes from the lyrical content. Heartthrob is personal, emotional and memorable. This is Tegan and Sara at their finest and every second of it is worthwhile.
Catch them rolling through Western Canada on tour at the end of February, with dates in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Regina.
– Aaron Swanbergson
(Photo: Lindsey Byrnes)