Volume and monotonousness seem to be the key themes running in “Heartthrob,” the seventh album from Canadian twins Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin.
You can appreciate the effort that Tegan and Sara make, perhaps. But that does not justify the dryness. Tegan and Sara themselves seem bored with their album of lackluster songs and unvaried beats. As a study in dance floor beats, it is okay. But start looking for anything more substantial, and you will quickly find yourself wandering.
Perhaps Tegan and Sara had hoped to establish some sense of a unifying theme. But all they truly accomplish is a masterful study in inspiring apathy. Their track names are forgettable, and their songs meld together into insipid beats and dry voices (“Closer” comes immediately to mind). The beats are loud, but uninspired. The singers talk, rather than sing. All in all, the album lacks true energy. Its automatic reach towards the generic norm of pop music is off-putting and may irritate those searching for something more substantial.
None of these elements, if taken alone, are necessarily bad. There’s no question that when done well, some of these musical aspects can serve to highlight an artist’s work. Almost all artists have some unifying aspects in an album, be it in a quick tone or spiritual weightiness. And even the “talk, not sing” approach can be masterfully done, but Tegan and Sara have completely missed the artful subtlety created by spoken-word composers such as Max Richter.
It’s difficult to identify a precise problem. The album does have its highlights. “How Come You Don’t Want Me” has a more subdued and enjoyable beat, “Drove Me Wild” has a charismatic electronic overtone and a compelling vocal lead, and “I Was a Fool” has a playful energy to it.
But there’s not much more that can be said for the album. The electric beats tend to be overdone, and the vocal leads lack real energy. The album is entirely too reliant on cranking up the volume and a drizzly but forgetable electric beat. The album is made for a dance floor. As music to turn to for inspiration, however, it falls short.