Artist: Tegan and Sara
Is there anything more refreshing than watching a band or musician come to terms with who they are? Following their career as they age and mature can honestly be as inspiring as watching your kids grow.
That said, Tegan and Sara have finally become full-fledged adults. On Heartthrob, they stand up boldly, refusing to let their music career become a cliché. Following the spike in noise which started with their 2009 release Sainthood, the band slams an exclamation mark on the a career, swelling from a girl-and-her-guitar-coffee-shop sound to a cigarette-lighter-love-song-arena-rock-anthem feel. The album’s dancehall, glitter-pop setting is sure to prove that being catchy doesn’t always have to be tongue-in-cheek. With dark lyrics stacked over radio-friendly choruses and hooks more addicting than the drama on your Facebook thread, 2013 looks to be Tegan and Sara’s year to explode.
It isn’t like the duo needed a lot of help with mass exposure. With the success of So Jealous, featuring tracks like “Walking with a Ghost,” “You Wouldn’t Like Me” and “Where Does The Good Go,” the band had stolen the hearts of angst-soaked twenty-somethings and cluttered the mixtapes of Nick Hornby characters.
However, Heartthrob is honestly quite different than anything they’ve previously released. With tenfold the energy of the previous six cuts, the album has graduated from a solo album (consisting of two solo artists) to a straight on, over-the-top, full band sound. For the first time since I can remember, the focus of Tegan and Sara has shifted spotlight from the words coming out of their mouth to a whole package structure, implementing a support of instrumentation likely to turn as many heads as their sentence structure. Take the opening track “Closer,” for example. Though the vocals do stand out initially, it is hard not to get swept up in the indie-dance noise keeping time behind the repetitive storytelling. Additionally, the group appears to have added a few new tricks to their roster of talents, serving listeners with a new and fresh synth-pop sound. Joining the ranks of Metric, Passion Pit and Florence and the Machine, the album’s sound somehow balances on a tightrope of supposed throwback, yet updated. Seemingly, they have succeeded in creating the package that Rilo Kiley failed to do when they released Under the Blacklight.
Stacked with tracks worth noticing, Heartthrob is hands-down the duo’s most impressive release to date. “I’m Not Your Hero” is quite honestly the perfect pop song, starting calmly in the verse and building into an epic radio anthem in the chorus. Yet, in a completely different way, “I Was a Fool” could easily be found on Prince’s catalog had he recorded it. With beautiful vocals and stellar echoes, the song stands out in its depth and growth. The girls have come a long way since “Walking with a Ghost.”
Eventually, everyone grows up. This maturity looks damn good on these girls.
Review written by: Joshua Hammond