Thursday, January 31, 2013
First Listen: Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob
That is literally the only motivation I can come up with for this dismal, desperate-for-radio departure. Those who have taken umbrage at Heartthrob have done so because the Quin sisters traded in their guitars for synthesizers. I can't say I like this change in direction very much - at its best moments, this album sounds like Robyn, and at its worst like Katy Perry. But the plastic sounds themselves, created largely by Greg Kurstin (the Bee of The Bird and the Bee) aren't the real problem.
The issue is the songs. Tegan and Sara used to write great songs, and now they write bland radio hits. The songs are simplistic, full of banal sentiments, completely devoid of depth. One of the songs is actually built around this line: "You put the brakes on, and it drove me wild." Another finds the sisters repeating "I was a fool for love" over the most lukewarm synths you've ever heard. There are high points - "Goodbye, Goodbye," "Love They Say" - but the highs are so much lower than they've ever been.
This is the kind of album, the kind of cynical move toward the middle, that makes me feel stupid for ever having once been a fan. Or it would, if the older material weren't so good. Seriously, listen to The Con, and then listen to this. Holy. Shit. Holy shit. There's just nothing more to say.