CD Review: Tegan & Sara — Heartthrob


Tegan & Sara
Warner Brothers

By Al Kaufman

The indie pop darlings have discovered the ‘80s.

The goal of the seventh album for the Canadian twin sisters was to write a batch of fun ‘80s synth-pop love songs, but add an undertone of darkness. They succeeded. Ditching their producer from the last two albums, Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie), they went commercial with Mike Elizondo (Eminem, Pink) and Greg Kurstin (Kelly Clarkston, Pink).

As a result, opening cut and first single, “Closer,” jumps out of the speakers. It is a perfect piece of pink pop candy.  It’s hot, sexy and bouncy, and includes lines like “All I dream of lately is how to get you underneath me.”  Yet it’s really a song of a person who does not let another person in.

Nothing else on here matches the explosion of “Closer,” but many come close enough to make you pull out the neon pink clothing. “Goodbye, Goodbye” is so repetitive that it will drive you crazy after a couple of listens, but then you’ll find yourself singing it a few minutes later. Such is the power of the Quin sisters.

“Drove Me Wild” is the song on the album that comes closest to the high energy of “Closer,” but while the refrain of “and it drove me wild” screams out to be sung with wild abandon, the girls sing with the meticulous restraint of someone to whom English is a foreign language. It is one of the few times that their voices do not keep up with the synth beats.  They dip a toe into the ocean of funk on “Now I’m All Messed Up,” but pull it out just as quickly. Yet it’s a safe bet though that Prince’s 1999 is in their album collection.

There are a few songs that sound like a Heart power ballad mixed in with a dash of Cyndi Lauper. Although they offer some cool lines (“Why don’t you want to show me off?”) the songs fail to produce the infectious beats of some of the other pop nuggets on here.

This may be candy, but it’s candy with nuts in it. Ther excess sugar may be bad for you, but the nuts provide the protein you need to keep on going.


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