It’s hard to have a long career in pop music. Only a relative handful of artists have the creative stamina for the long haul, and most of them turn out to be shape-shifters, evolving and changing course as they go – psychedelic Beatles, Christian Dylan, muscular Bruce and mystical Madonna to name a few. Which brings us to Tegan and Sara, and their stunning new record, HEARTTHROB.
“No one will confuse this with any of our other records,” Sara says. “It’s got a bigger, bolder, happier sound.” Tegan is explicit about the supersized ambitions motivating the record. “I kept asking myself, Can I hear this in an arena? Can I hear this on a teenager’s iPod as they’re riding the bus to school?”
HEARTTHROB doesn’t just sound different; it represents a more collaborative way of making music. For the first time, the sisters wrote most of the songs together and surrendered more control than usual in the studio, dividing songs between producers Greg Kurstin, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and Mike Elizondo to capture the sound they were looking for.
For all the superficial differences, though, HEARTTHROB bears the true hallmarks of a Tegan and Sara record. The songs are terrific, full of lust, longing and regret, bouncing between the familiar poles of post-breakup despondency on ‘How Come You Don’t Want Me’ and erotic rapture of ‘Closer’, the first single from the album which is at radio now.
HEARTTHROB gives us Tegan and Sara in their superhero tights and capes, ready to conquer the pop universe, and the new outfits suit them just as well as their old-school jeans and T-shirts. Don’t be surprised if you hear these songs in an arena, blasting on the radio, or leaking from a teenager’s earbuds on a bus. And don’t worry if you experience a brief sense of disorientation the first couple of times you hear them, a momentary inability to put a name to those familiar voices. By the time you realize who you’re listening to, you’ll already be singing along.
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