Tegan and Sara’s new album features unsatisfying departure from former folk pop style

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Tegan and Sara perform for Warner Brothers Records in August 2012. The band’s latest album is a continuation of their increasingly pop sound. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

Tegan and Sara’s latest album, Heartthrob, sees the identtical twin sisters in pop overdrive, trading guitar chord progressions for synthesizer melodies. In the follow-up to 2009’s Sainthood, their former folk pop style is almost nowhere to be found, conforming to the increasing popularity of synth-based pop bands like Chromatics and The Killers.

The album begins with the lead single, “Closer,” a sensual electronic dance number with programming that sounds like MGMT, only with female vocals. A far cry from previous hits like “The Con” and “Walking With A Ghost,” the fist-pumping formula of the song is undeniably catchy but equally surprising. The sisters belt out desires to “get a little closer,” concisely setting the tone of the album — electronic and erotic.    

The best songs are the ones with the least production, like “How Come You Don’t Want Me,” a confessional song that sounds like it could easily fit on Sainthood. There’s no glam rock hook or overbearing pop synthesizers, just honest emotions. “Drove Me Wild” is the best track on the album, a catchy flashback of a former love. However, there are no exceptionally strong outliers that can save the album as a whole. 

Tegan and Sara sing in perfect harmony the way only twin sisters can, and it is almost enough to make up for the glittery effects. Heartthrob feels like an appeal to the masses that happened too quickly. There are too many lyrical cliches, like, “The first time I saw your face/I knew I was meant for you,” on “Love They Say.” The ubiquitous synthesizers, drum machines and all-around over-produced soundscapes drown out the talent and emotion. But the goal of the album is not to intimately connect with a listener. The goal is to make them dance, and in that, Heartthrob succeeds.

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After 2009’s Gorilla Manor, the expectations were set pretty high for Local Natives. Hummingbird is a continuation of their spacey, laid-back alternative rock with an emphasis on vocal harmonies. Although Hummingbird can be hard to get into and can sound a bit contrived, the slow-moving songs are minimalist works of art featuring incredible lyrics and vocals. 

Printed on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 as: Tegan and Sara's sharp singing falls flat