Tegan And Sara
February 11, 2013
Here’s something that you never thought you would hear. Tegan And Sara are branching out and finally opening up to the masses. For the larger part of the noughties, the duo have stood as a beacon of camp indie pop without coming across as tacky. Their easygoing songwriting made their songs unlikely anthems that stood no matter what sound they were wrapped in (their finest moment Walking With A Ghost was still awesome even when The White Stripes covered it). Anyone who wanted to escape the stereotype of all the Gagas and Madonnas in the world had these twins to run to. Sadly that is over as their new record Heartthrob is a charmless synthpop mediocrity that is shit in every single way.
We’re not going to use ancient terms like selling out but consider this. The duo were once among the best known and somewhat credible Canadian indie pop duos going. And Heartthrob? Two minutes into the record I got called a fag for playing this in the first place. They’ve been writing for Carly Rae Jepsen and producing records along with huge pop names but even if we would like to say that they are taking the mainstream with them towards the more left field and independent thinking edges of pop, Heartthrob is numb to any kind of imagination. It’s among the blandest pop records you are likely to hear all year from anyone with cliched lyrics, sparkling, flavourless production and lack of understanding when it comes to making something that would attract people. The last point in not entirely necessary but we can’t lie, Heartthrob is the most unfashionable record of the year.
We, like some other credible publications, have raised eyebrows by naming the aforementioned Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe as one of the best songs of the year. Majority of Heartthrob aims for the same cutesy naive angle but Tegan And Sara, surprisingly, have absolutely no personality power on here. Heartthrob makes the most common mistake when it comes to change. It doesn’t give us a reason to believe it’s genuine and with some of the worst pop songwriting you are likely to hear in your lives, it once again shows that indie pop going on full pop is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
The songs aim for generic supermarket pop hooks and airbrush every single humanly charm that these two ever possessed. The first four tracks border on grating in their mediocrity, going for the generic 80s synthpop influence that can’t help but sound out of touch with the rest of the pop world out there, or even placed against their previous material. There is nothing worse than shallow pop music that begs to be fucked over by major labels and the radio and yet, refuses to conform with the sound of now. Heartthrob is not rebellious. At its best moments it feels like a pastiche of 80s “haircuts before music” pop that no one seems to care about. Possibly the best song on here is Drove Me Wild, a pop number that at least goes an extra mile to sound like a product of a different era. It sounds like one of the less amazing tunes off that debut Ladyhawke album from many years ago.
But then the throwback nature of the most pleasurable stuff on here is ruined by Love They Say, a 90s acoustic malarkey that makes me wonder, why not just listen to B*Witched or something. At its most mediocre (How Come You Don’t Want Me, I Couldn’t Be Your Friend) it sounds like one of those 80s self-help power pop anthems that are popular and yet, no one actually seems to like them. Straight from the guitar driven intros to glistening choruses, these moments make us imagine the darkness that would engulf the planet if shit like The Power Of Love would be considered cool. Heartthrob is on the same level, just less iconic as its twee idiocy is inexcusable.
The smashing production on here makes the record feel grand, like it’s the final ascent into the throne but to us it sounds like a car crash fall from grace and a compilation of everything that is wrong with pop music, contemporary or 80s. Just about for the first time in their lives, Tegan And Sara don’t sound inspirational, emotional or understanding. Their idea of romance makes them sound like they have never been kissed in their lives and their point of existence is merely to wait for the knight in shining armor. It’s the moronic naivety that doesn’t make us think they they have consciously sold out, Heartthrob makes it sound like they’re too thick for that. Never thought we’d have to quote Tyler, The Creator by my god, they really need some hard dick in their lives.