Tegan and Sara chart new territory with Heartthrob

The Quin twins, known for their comical onstage banter during live performances, came out with their seventh studio album Heartthrob in January of 2013. Since then, they’ve appeared on both The Ellen Degeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and earned themselves three Juno awards. Now, they will join Katy Perry on her Prismatic World Tour and play two shows at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Sept. 9 and 10.

Their new sound is a change from their typical indie rock/folk style and instead moves into pop territory. In a Kentucky.com interview, Tegan and Sara tell Walter Tunis that they needed to move in a different direction, one that pushed the comfort zones of both themselves and their fans. “I felt we made a lot of sad and very introspective, very heavy records,” said Tegan. “We wanted to make a record that had maybe a bit more of a pop vibe, more of an upbeat feel.

The new album is definitely more upbeat and pop focused than previous albums, but still has that brooding Tegan and Sara style. It feels more stripped down and not as overly produced as chart-topping pop songs. The lyrics on Heartthrob are raw and straightforward when compared to the more metaphorical lyrics on their previous albums.

Throughout the 10 tracks on Heartthrob, it seems Tegan and Sara have switched roles. The two singers write separately from their respective cities of Vancouver and Montreal, often adding backing vocals for each other later on. Tegan is usually the one who writes the songs that fans seem to scream along with. With this album, Sara’s songs tend to be more pop-driven whereas Tegan’s songs, such as “Love They Say” have a sentimental quality.

“Closer” is the hit single of this album, and winner of the 2014 Juno Award for Best Single of the Year, but the song that sticks with me the most is “How Come You Don’t Want Me.” Anyone who has been on this end of a breakup can relate, and it has the potential to be a real anthem for break-up-ees. With lines like “You’re killing me to walk away” and “Tell me why you couldn’t try/couldn’t try and keep me here,” a story of heartbreak and longing is laid out for all to hear.

“Now I’m All Messed Up” is an ‘80s-style piano ballad. All I can say is that the studio version does no justice to the live version. When they play this song live, the audience goes absolutely silent, and when they finish, everyone erupts into cheers. Find a live version on YouTube. It will enrich your life. “I Was a Fool” has amazing piano, while “Drove Me Wild” immediately transports you to dreamland.

The lyrics on Heartthrob are intimate, saying what is usually hard or even embarrassing to say, such as “How come you don’t want me now?” and “Go if you want/I can’t stop you.” It feels very gratifying to be able to scream these things out along with the songs.

Pop usually has simple, broad lyrics so that it can reach the wide range of people that it does, but with this record Tegan and Sara reach a broad spectrum of people with their intimate songs.

Tegan and Sara have proved to be extremely talented. Whether you are a saw-them-in-a-bar-in-1999-die-hard fan or a discovered-them-in-2008-and-have-been-a-loyal-fan-ever-since type of supporter, this album might pleasantly surprise you. These are some of the duo’s most upbeat songs to date, but you can still curl up in the fetal position and listen to them alone.

If you’ve heard “Closer” or any of their other songs on the radio, I guarantee you will be coming back for more. Check out some of their past records too. So Jealous (2004) and The Con (2007) are two of my favourites.

Concert details are available on their website, www.teganandsara.com.

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