ASK ME IF I LIKE THE NEW TEGAN AND SARA record Heartthrob, and the answer might vary depending on the day. You could say I’m ”hot n cold” toward the set, to bring Katy Perry into the discussion – and to a certain extent, the twins are obviously trying to bring Perry into it. (You can’t help but hear the influence of Perry’s ”The One That Got Away” on ”I Couldn’t Be Your Friend,” for example.) With super-producer Greg Kurstin (Pink, Lily Allen, even Kesha) on board, the album is an unquestionable stab at trying for mainstream success, after roughly 13 years of being cult favorites and indie-rock darlings.
A month of listening to the set hasn’t fully swayed me one way or the other: I didn’t like how the girls’ edges have been mostly roughed away on the first few listens, though eventually, I got some of the melodies lodged in my head, and I caught myself listening to the set on repeat. Naturally, I had to admit then and there, in fact, I do like it. And so it goes, in an endless loop: One day, I listen to it a couple times through; another, I start and stop, deciding I’ve had enough.
At the least, their harmonized singing remains unmistakably Tegan and Sara, and many of the lyrics are clever and playful, some still bearing the Tegan and Sara trademark of being amusingly self-deprecating and self-contradictory. ”Go if you want, I can’t stop you,” they sing on the break-up ballad ”Now I’m All Messed Up,” before then cooing a beg in the background, ”Please stay!”
That’s one of at least two tracks I haven’t actually wavered in liking. The other is the striking, austere set closer ”Shock To Your System,” featuring a light tribal rhythm and a message of commiseration after a breakup. ”What you are is lonely,” they shout, as a chorus sweetly coos in response.
DOWNLOAD THESE: ”Now I’m All Messed Up,” ”Shock To Your System”