The opening sets Susanne up for some comparisons with the moon, the crow, the shark and the earth, all in a spiritual mantra of her being. It's an excellent and slightly eerie opening to the album, setting up the expectations there of. The strongest lyric, is verse 4: "I’m as empty as the Earth/An insignificant birth/Stardust in a universe/That is all that I am worth"
My favorite track of the album, the lyrics are poignant and fresh, the slide guitar sounds gorgeous and the build-up and execution is second-par to none. Susanne presents a lot of darkness, but in a way this song leans into the light. The morality and chaos around her seems to come to a pause in this song. I honestly want to quote the lyrics to the entire song, BUT if I'm forced to pick only one, it has to be the opening: "Do you believe in reincarnation?/'Cause I thought I saw your soul / Flashing and dancing on the horizon /Shades of jade and emerald."
#3: good luck, bad luck
Another top selection, the jazz which inspires the album is pretty clear now in this track which sounds like something you might hear in a delicious hole in the wall with strong cheap drinks and the best live music in the city. The binaries exposed on this track highlight the back and forth Susanne experiences with her man as dictated by 'good luck'/'bad luck', 'double trouble', 'empty / full'. My favorite lyric on this one has to be this beautifully written line, "Freeloader...wisdom from the books he never read"
#4: the sound of war
Another favorite of mine, this track clearly demonstrates the sound of war with the medieval guitar intro and the drones' signals at the end into the ethereal nothingness of a post apocalyptic nightmare which she has created. By the end of the track, you're left with some George Orwellian/Wells nightmare especially with her lyrical prowess, "Leave all that you were/ 'Cause you won’t need it where/You are going tonight"
#5: music for people in trouble
This song is more of a spoken poem over some glitches and minimalism, focusing on the center core of the album. The thesis is wrapped into the poem which divides the album in two layers. Favorite line has to be the ending, "We don't do life, we don't choose life, life does us."
#6: bedtime story
Another favorite, Susanne combines moody underground jazz to paint to question the mute problematics of a decaying (or decayed) relationship. There's a gem of lyrics here, my favorite being, "I'll think about the time you reassured me you were mine/
Oh, what is love but a frail little dreamcatcher?"
The lead single for the project, and no doubt the most uplifting and radio-friendly of the bunch (although both descriptors seem far from accurate on this track). Built with a booming chorus which borderlines on gospel music, the piano which holds the track evolves into new folk. Favorite lyric on this one is the one she says with such hummingbird melancholy, "You're a teasing little twister and/They're dancers in the dark."
#8: no one believes in love anymore
A solemn piano ballad that makes me sad even when I'm the most happy. You can tell Susanne has been hurt as she repeats lines with such factual brokenness that you certainly believe that love is over and gone. Among the lyrics, my favorite line is "We’ll all get there soon, looking up at the Moon." I can't help but feel that line is a warning of sorts of humanity's slow loss of love.
#9: The golden age
Another gem, this spacious track harbors an ABBA-like ballad chorus designed and wrapped in sheer celestial wonder. The lyrics are miminal, but the production is fantastic. If there's one song that bridges her past electronics, it has to be this one. The chorus is rather epic, building up to a climax before falling into descent: "It beats louder and louder and longer and longer/All the way to the border/And back to when I was young and out of my mind."
#10: Mountaineers - featuring josh grant
One of my favorite songs of 2017, (#10), Mountaineers is a sheer colossal giant which is almost indescribable. The opening with Josh Grant sounds like a Gregorian Choir and pulses forward with cosmic sensibility. In the middle, Susanne and Josh trade places, as the song begins to grow and sparkle with timelessness before the ending's gospel and organ shine through. Another oil metaphor is used, both for romantic and enviornment connections ("Swimming in the soil of your wasted oil" is a gem of a line). but the ending brings the record to an all-time high, as Susanne clarifies that people in trouble are simply troubled because tis is life. "What we are, what we want, it will never change."
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.