Duo narrowly avoids flatline with Heartthrob

Andrea Mendes

Overproducing and a bombardment of synth make for an okay album, unfortunately this is the case for Tegan and Sara’s 2013 album Heartthrob; which incidentally is somewhat of a heartbreak.

Tegan and Sara initially broke through to the music scene in the late 90s as an indie rock duo, and the two quickly caught the attention of producers. Like many bands, their sound has developed with their experience. Over the span of their 14 year career, Tegan and Sara have morphed from their once friendly indie rock sound to a synthpop, indie pop mix.

The twin sisters have released 7 studio albums over the course of their career, each of them a commercial success, which is why I expected their new album to bring the same satisfaction as the rest.
With the upcoming hype over a new album, it came as a surprise that the album would be entitled Heartthrob. The name brought about an image of a middle school girl, which was far from their fan base. The album name served as an ode to fans, hence the album Heartthrob.

My experience with the album was bittersweet. I had grown to love Tegan and Sara and I watched them mature and grow into the band they had become, but with this album I was left deeply disappointed.

The album starts off with what is commercially the best and most popular song on the album, “Closer”, which is just as upbeat and covered in synth as the rest of the album, but it some how works for this song. Tegan and Sara’s voices belt out in the chorus, and make it easy for fans to sing along and makes it the perfect song to listen to while driving around with friends.

The next song on the album, “Goodbye”, is my second favorite and a little less upbeat than “Closer”. This song is reminiscent of the 80s and includes a very pop and new wave beat that remains playful and fun.
The next two songs “I Was a Fool” and “I’m Not Your Hero” have misleading introductions. What I proclaim the ‘sad’ songs of the album, these feature meaningful lyrics but instead of being paired with a quiet tempo, feature upbeat guitar and drums, similar to what they did in previous albums like The Con, a personal favorite of mine.

“Drove Me Wild” and “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend” were next up on the album, and although they weren’t my favorite, I thought they still included musical elements that were pleasing to the ear. What they lacked was ‘punch’ or something that pulled the listener in like the previous songs had.

The next few songs drove me crazy: “How You Want Me”, “Love They Say”, “Shock to Your System”, and “Now I’m All Messed Up”. There was no problem with Tegan and Sara’s beautifully written lyrics, which were filled with an outpouring of their feelings; the problem lay with production. The band always had more of an upbeat vibe to it, but new producers that have worked with Ke$ha and Kelly Clarkson pulled them in a different direction. Their music is more focused on pleasing the masses with too much synth and tracks of beats being laid over echoed vocals.

Tegan and Sara remain one of my favorite bands to listen to when I’m in the mood to dance in my car or just sing a the top of my lungs and although parts of this album broke my heart because a few songs were disappointing, I keep faith with the songs that stay true to the duo. I’m sure that the two will prevail and that the music they make will return to what made fans originally fall in love with them So if you’re in the mood for something fun to listen to I recommend any of Tegan and Sara’s past albums, and if you’re daring, take a chance on Heartthrob as well.