They started as folk singers, but amazing singles such as “Monday, Monday, Monday,” “Walking with a Ghost” and “Alligator” proved that Tegan and Sara Quin could go pop and be proud about it. “Heartthrob” formalizes the twins’ evolution, and with producer Greg Kurstin (The Bird and the Bee, Lily Allen) giving their mini-dramas a hard candy shell, Tegan and Sara are now making music as accessible as Katy Perry’s dance epics but with a higher IQ.
Kurstin’s electro-pop production style usually includes callbacks to 1980s New Wave, and while opening single “Closer” has more in common with modern electronic dance music, “Goodbye, Goodbye” and “Drove Me Wild” are as Day-Glo as they come. The sisters even include a love-it-or-hate-it power ballad, “I Was a Fool,” that could pass for listening to mid-’80s Heart, or Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart,” but infused with enough substance to inoculate listeners against sugar shock.
“Heartthrob” is brief but filled with potential singles, all driven by an interlocking narrative about a crush that gives way to disillusionment. Given Sara Quin’s recent work with fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen, it would be nice to see Tegan and Sara rewarded with some mass-market adulation of their own after 14 years as cult act. Any one of these songs could be the one that puts them over.
— George Lang