Calgarian indie-rock giants Tegan and Sara’s seventh studio album Heartthrob is destined to be met with cries of ‘sell outs’ by self-proclaimed ‘true fans.’ On the surface, it’s easy to see where these jaded fans are coming from. Heartthrob trades in the acoustic-rock soundscapes that defined The Con and So Jealous for a wall of production that sounds like ’80s synth-pop mixed with the kind of music you might hear on a Katy Perry record.
No one that has been keeping tabs on the duo since the release of their 2009 album Sainthood, which hinted at a more electronic sound for the band, should be overly surprised by this transition. The duo’s collaborations on electronic dance tracks like Morgan Page’s “Body Work” and Tiesto’s “Feel it in my Bones” made it obvious that the band was looking to explore new sounds and genres.
This seemingly blatant attempt at making a mainstream pop record would be concerning if the songwriting had suffered. Thankfully, the core of Heartthrob is the same as any other Tegan and Sara record. It is filled with emotionally charged, almost embarrassingly candid lyrics with hooks so effortlessly memorable you’ll be singing them in your sleep, topped with arguably the best vocal harmonies in music today.
The highest point of Heartthrob is the back-to-back power-pop bliss of “How Come You Don’t Want Me,” an infectiously catchy song that anyone who’s ever been left behind in a relationship will relate to, followed by “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend,” a venomous track about a relationship gone horribly wrong.
The only low point on Heartthrob comes with “Love They Say,” a song that only barely survives its clichéd lyrics through the merit of its strong melody and convincing vocal performances.
All in all, Tegan and Sara have made the transition to electro-dance-pop with thrilling results. If this is the future of dance music, I might just have to start shaking my ass.