Indie-pop rockers drop bass

[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Heartthrob makes big strides[/pullquote1]

BY TESS MELCHREIT ’14
Contributing Writer

The indie world’s favorite twins are back and better than ever. Tegan and Sara’s new album, Heartthrob, their first in four years, is radically different from past work by the Canadian duo. Starting out in the folk-rock genre, Tegan and Sara have been guiding their work away from their guitar-and-keyboard roots, evident on their 2009 album, Sainthood. Though the album carried a distinct indie-rock sound, their progress toward creating a different sound could be heard on several tracks, most notably “Northshore” and “Hell.”

The step Tegan and Sara took with Heartthrob was enormous,and intentionally so. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Tegan said, “We didn’t want to take a small step. We wanted to take a big step.” Heartthrob still carries subtle hints of their indie-rock roots, but is largely dominated by some gigantic bass and a dance-y indie-pop sound.

“Now I’m All Messed Up,” arguably the best song on the album, is also the furthest shot from Tegan and Sara’s indie-rock beginnings. Deep bass and synth-pop own this track, but the twins manage to deliver lyrics as heartbreaking as any of their indie-rock tracks. This track takes us far from the Tegan and Sara that we would quietly jam out to in our room, and gives us a new Tegan and Sara that we blast in the car, screaming along to at the top of our lungs.
“Love They Say” and “I’m Not Your Hero,” equally indie-pop as the rest of Heartthrob, are nevertheless reminiscent of Tegan and Sara’s indie-rock days. Softer, slower, and with less bass and synth than the majority of Heartthrob, they could work equally as well on 2009’s Sainthood. They deliver their quintessential T&S lyrics that hurt in all the right ways, letting their words win us over in these tracks rather than their new sound.

“Shock To Your System,” falling between the newness of “Now I’m All Messed Up” and the indie-rockness of “Love They Say,” is an accurate read of this entire album. It’s got bass, it’s got synth-pop, it’s got heart-wrenching lyrics, and it’s got that unmatched Tegan and Sara harmony. It encapsulates all the positive points of Heartthrob and is a solid, solid finish to the album.

Usually, an indie-rock band’s decision to venture into the indie-pop world marks the end of something; their fans’ loyalty, their career, making good songs in general. In Tegan and Sara’s case, however, the change was made flawlessly and has produced an absolutely fantastic piece of work. Heartthrob is an enormously different album from their past music, a change that can be loved and appreciated by both old and new Tegan and Sara fans.

[three_fourth]Usually, an indie-rock band’s decision to venture into the indie-pop world marks the end of something; their fans’ loyalty, their career, making good songs in general. In Tegan and Sara’s case, however, the change was made flawlessly and has produced an absolutely fantastic piece of work. Heartthrob is an enormously different album from their past music, a change that can be loved and appreciated by both old and new Tegan and Sara fans.
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Review Rating:
A
Heartthrob flawlessly blends pop elements into vintage indie sound.

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Questions? Email Tess at amelchre@fandm.edu.

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