You know how people feel about the Amelie soundtrack? It’s totally, undeniably heart-wrenching and exquisite, but way too over-done to be played on a first date or at a funeral. That’s how I used to feel about Tegan and Sara, the indie pop outfit from Canada whose seventh album Heartthrob hit the Top 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in America last week. They are a band who write music for bedroom discos and sentimental evenings.
Tegan and Sara’s songs are oiled in teenage angst and broken hearts, and when one catches you at the right moment its lyrics knock you off your feet. Try listening to Back In Your Head at 2am after a bottle of wine (ie. me last night) without going wonderfully sentimental and soppy. Or if you’re feeling really brave, play Where Does The Good Go and resist the urge to Facebook stalk the guy who took your virginity (again, me last night).
I’d put away my adolescent adoration of Tegan and Sara and tried to work out how to dance to mainstream dubstep instead. It’s only this week that I rediscovered my old love of Tegan and Sara, after attending the UK launch of Heartthrob at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes by Russell Square. The venue was the very definition of intimate, and while I stood awkwardly by the bar trying to work out how to make my press band stay on my hand, fifty or so baby lesbians and jailbait twinks screamed and applauded as Tegan and Sara took the stage.
The show was the succinct side of brief and the band had the courtesy to start and finish with older songs like Back In Your Head and Walking With a Ghost, rather than swing straight into the new stuff nobody knows that well yet. Closer, the lead single from the new album, is a huge, stadium-ready electropop song. It’s catchy and big enough to gnaw its way inside your head for hours after hearing it; yet still sweet, intimate and sincere in tone.
How Come You Don’t Want Me is perhaps the most affecting track from the new album (at least I found myself frantically googling the lyrics to make a note of which song it was for whenever I next have a fight with my boyfriend). Sara’s voice rises in a medley of withheld misery and outspoken anger over synths and guitars to a hairbrush-in-hand singalong chorus. As ever, Tegan and Sara represent those small pains of first heartache and teenage insecurity with a marvelous grace and clarity.
This is the album that will most likely elevate Tegan and Sara to a much wider audience, which is both great and a little annoying. The essential gayness of Tegan and Sara’s music is a key component to the band’s success and the size of their dedicated fanbase; but could this all get lost in translation while the girls (deservedly) make their way to superstardom?
Watch the (surprisingly uplifting if you like that sort of thing) video for Tegan and Sara’s single Closer below