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Tegan and Sara explore new genres in “Hearththrob” with mixed results

Everybody grows up, and everybody changes. That is just an unavoidable fact that many music fans refuse to acknowledge. Unfortunately, this is the case with Tegan and Sara’s new album “Heartthrob.”

The twins have come back with their seventh studio album. It’s been a very busy four years for them; they have released an album or toured every year since 2009. Maybe that’s why “Heartthrob” sounds so wildly different from fan favorites like “The Con” or even the less loved “Sainthood.”

The new drop loses almost every element of folk rock that made them famous. Gone are the melodic piano hooks and jamming guitars that so perfectly conflicted with Tegan and Sara’s sweet vocals.

Instead, the tracks all feature dance beats and synth heavy hooks. “Heartthrob” is, without a doubt, an experimental club album for the duo.  The opening track, “Closer” is the epitome of a dance song and seems ready for the inevitable remixes that Tegan and Sara’s songs usually draw. A few of these songs would be innocuous, but the entire album is basically done this way. Heavily mastered and chock full of effects, it strips the music of its former charm.

There are saving graces to be found within the club anthems of “Heartthrob.” One thing the Canadians didn’t lose is the lyrical prowess they are known and loved for. Every song on this record features excellent songwriting and tells a definite story of love and the confusing pursuit of the whole mess, as only Tegan and Sara can describe it.

They describe the pull and tear of lovers who can’t make up their minds, crooning, “Stay/You’ll leave me in the morning anyway/My heart/You’ll cut it out you never liked me anyway/Why do you take me down this road/If you don’t wanna walk with me?/Why do you exit, go it alone/When you could just talk to me” taking the words right from every confused partner ever. The song is simple and heartbreaking, explaining the very anxiety of the situation in lyrics like, “now I’m all messed up/Sick inside, wondering where/Where you’re leaving your makeup/Now I’m all messed up/Sick inside wondering who/Whose life you’re making worthwhile.”

Other lyrical points of interest include “Drove Me Wild,” a light ballad remembering the good times in the relationship one can assume set the theme for “Heartthrob.” It tells the story of a lover who couldn’t stop herself, and depended on the other to pump the breaks and keep things from getting too crazy, thus making things even crazier.

The overall verdict on “Heartthrob” is a mixed one. For someone who has never listened to Tegan and Sara, or just hasn’t gotten into them deep, this is a great album. It’s light without being shallow, it’s fun without being obnoxious and it has a great speed to it. It’s easy to listen to over and over without getting bored thanks to the infectious beats.

For long-term fans, however, enter with caution. Remember that they made “The Con” in 2007, when they were but children. You’ve grown up and so have they. I don’t think this pop style is going to stick for them; they just needed to get it out of their system. If, as a fan, you’re able to listen to artists you like stray from their path, you will en joy “Heartthrob” as it still maintains some of the charm of everyone’s favorite Canadian twins. If you’re expecting their usual folk-rock indie jams and you don’t think you can accept a pop attempt from them, you’re going to have a bad time. Just stick to the older stuff and wait until the next album drops.

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