In the 'Album Analysis' series, Matt examines a favorite albums and breaks apart the lyrics and production.
When Tegan and Sara went synth, most people were probably confused given the duo's past as a grungy punk band. I didn't really know Tegan & Sara too well to be that closed off to their new material, and Heartthrob become a pop favorite from 2013.
Heartthrob was very present on the Best of 2013, coming in at 33 on NME's list, 13 on SPIN's, 30 on Rolling Stone's, 7 on Idolator's and 19 on Stereogum's.
The album opens with the lead single 'Closer', which indeed harks to teenage heartthrob with a catchy chorus and a delicious synth line.
"You never really knew me, never, ever / Never, ever saw me, saw me like they did / You never really loved me, never really, Never really loved me, loved me like they did."
Track three cuts a bit deeper, losing a bit of the synth and replacing it with piano. It's still very different from the punk band's previous sound. I love the line, 'How I climbed your city's walls'...it's a stand out for me.
In the progress of the album, the piano gets replaced for guitar as we transition to the fourth track, "I'm Not Your Hero". The album, which is a concept album about early romance and young love. I wonder what the band is trying to communicate on this track, maybe this is about a man/woman who breaks up the relationship to the thankfulness of the other?
While Closer demonstrated a fun attitude towards the unknown and present of love, Drove Me Wild continues to break down the crash that apparently happened after track one. The song gives us good strong 80s pop, and thankfully cheers us up considering how sad the last few tracks had been!
'How Come You Don't Want Me', is the sixth track and the beginning of act two. It's a rather needy song, but we've all experienced the question which the duo pose as well as the feelings. The song's happy bridge is really my favorite section:
On an album that talks about love, one phenomena that is definitely worth investigating is 'trying to be friends' after a breakup. To Tegan and Sara, this is not going to happen as they describe a rather psychotic ex.
With all the songs that aggressively pull and push relationships and break-ups, Love They Say is perhaps the only tender love ballad here. You can tell this song was cooked up acoustically before overlaid with dripping star night synth. It's funny how cheesy the lyrics might be, yet how honest and right on the money they are.
Track 9, the penultimate, Now I'm All Messed Up, is probably my favorite song. It's kind of an enhanced version of the earlier somber tracks, 'Goodbye, Goodbye', 'I Was A Fool', with a double chorus punch that really hits home. I love the filtered piano and the way they utilize the double sides of feeling, I want you to go vs. I want you to stay.
One would hope that the album would end on a happy note, but it probably ends the way a true heartthrob ends: lonely. There might be hope of a new tomorrow, but in that moment when the relationship ends, it indeed plays out as a 'shock to your system'. There's something rather haunting that an album about love and the feelings of initial romance ends with the line, 'What you are is lonely'.
So is that the true feeling of a quick relationship or maybe a string of dates? The ups and downs, the rollercoaster and the heartthrob. Leave your comments below!
I keep saying "I write" but don't share anything. So here we go, let's share.