“While Heartthrob may prove a departure from the band’s earlier sound, it should be judged in isolation for what it is; a slice of fantastic 80’s-influenced golden pop…”
Album Review | Tegan and Sara
The Canadian twin sisters return to the scene (did they ever go away?) with Heartthrob, 36 minutes of synth heavy, new wave embracing, top pop tunage. Heartthrob wears its 80’s influence – think hooks, vocals and synths, not shoulder pads and big hair – very much on its Dolman sleeve; and marks a large departure from 2009’s far more traditionally “indie” driven Sainthood produced by Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla.
But, differences aside, Heartthrob is pure, tightly-packed pop, with standout tracks such as “Closer” (previously released as a single) and “I’m Not Your Hero” that have hooks big enough to catch Moby Dick. Hats should also be tipped to “Drove Me Wild”, which was written by Canadian remix kings Sultan & Ned Shepard, the bitter-sweet track with lyrics such as “when I picture you I think of your smile and it drives me wild” and “when I envisage you I think of your sheets tangled up beneath me” is pure L.A synth-pop and brings to mind bands such as Berlin.
These insecurities, failed relationships and personal disasters, found throughout the album, also rear their head in lyrical form against a pop backdrop on “How Come You Don’t Want Me”, with its rousing refrain of the song’s title. The penultimate track, “Now I’m All Messed Up” is also, along with “I’m Not Your Hero” and “Closer” one of the highlights of a heavily highlighted album. With lyrics such as “Stay, you’ll leave me in the morning anyway” floating over sparse instrumentation before really kicking off with the impassioned chorus “go, go if you want I can’t stop you”, “Now I’m All Messed Up” is both a plea for patching things up and a very definitive “leave then” that, seriously now, deserves a mention in the same sentence as classic tracks such as Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”.
While Heartthrob may prove a departure from the band’s earlier sound, it should be judged in isolation for what it is; a slice of fantastic 80’s influenced golden pop that, if there is any justice, should be filling stadiums and bar dance floors in a place near you.