Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Album Review: Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob (4/5)


From what I've read, the seventh album from Canadian duo Tegan and Sara brings with it a switch up in sound, which sees them moving away from the indie folk-rock that they explored on previous albums and into a shimmery world of synths and dance-pop.

Right off the bat, first track, "Closer," launches the album into a synth-charged euphoria, backed with prominent drum patterns and pulsating bleeps, perpetuating that spacey and atmospheric sensation. It's great dance-pop, with a blustery chorus and catchy reptitive lyrics ("I won't treat you like you're typical") intact. I believe it was featured in this week's episode of Glee. "Goodbye, Goodbye" follows swiftly. And where the message on the previous track was to "get a little closer," things take a bitter turn on here as they sing, "you never really loved me." Stripping back the glistening production for the verses--where the drums and guitar chords pluck beneath the layers of soundscapes--before letting loose on the chorus.

"I Was a Fool," the albums first mid-tempo begins with melodious piano keys, before it's layered beneath drums and then synths for its Ellie Goulding-esque chorus. It's a great track; making way for its follow-up mid-tempo, "I'm Not Your Hero," which boasts a slightly skittering synth-beat and guitars. It's melody-charged chorus is particularly nice--it's sounds very synth-rock--the production comes together perfectly. "Drove Me Wild," is another winning synth-charged number. Re-calling dance-pop of the '80s somewhat, with its layering of distorted guitars, heavy synths, prominent backing beat, which make up the fantastic chorus.

Third mid-tempo, "How Come You Don't Want Me," feels a little Robyn with its pulsating backdrop. The chorus isn't as flashy as the previous tracks--it's more stripped down--bringing the duos boisterous vocal to the forefront. "I Couldn't Be Your Friend," starts with a persistent high-pitched guitar chord before the drums and synths kick in for the chorus. Excuse the barrage of comparisons, but it sounds like something Katy Perry would sing--even the vocal sounds a little like her.

"First time I saw your face, I knew I was meant for you," begins lovelorn, "Love They Say," which introduces layers of acoustic guitar for the first time, which dissolves into the synth, drum and soundscape in the chorus. "Now I'm All Messed Up," has a cool skittering synth-drum production, alternating between that a subtle section of distorted keyboards and twingy synths. "Shock To Your System," closes on the album on a somber and slightly anthemic note. The production is dramatic and haunting--an aura that is stapled beneath the prominent drum beat, synth, piano keys and the blustery vocal that repeats, "what you are is lonely."

Heartthrob might stay strictly within synth-charged dance-pop genre, but it still has a lot going for it. It's a cohesive collection of mostly fun pop and (what I now know is called...) synth-rock, that's pretty hard to argue against.  

Best: Closer, Goodbye Goodbye, I'm Not Your Hero, I Was a Hero, Drove Me Wild

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