Heartthrob - Tegan and Sara
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 79 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 68 out of 79
  2. Negative: 8 out of 79

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  1. Feb 6, 2014
    It's a good album. The music is fine, and so are the lyrics. But for a dance album, i expected it to be more exciting than this. The tracks i enjoyed the most are: "Goodbye, Goodbye", "Love They Say", and "Now I'm All Messed Up".
  2. Mar 23, 2013
    I knew a minimal amount about this (formerly) indie-rock duo aside from the inclusion of their 2007 song The Con in Rock Band 3 & some buzz in the indie scene once I started keeping up with that kind of stuff. Then lead single Closer came out & they seemed to just blow UP in the mainstream. And it’s no mystery as to why, since on Heartthrob they’ve definitely gone in a more accessible & poppy direction. I recently heard their album The Con (which many consider their magnum opus) for the sake of discography context & was pretty impressed. It had a much more rock-leaning & alternative feeling throughout, and the controversy’s Heartthrob caused among Tegan & Sara’s fanbase became a bit clearer. Even though they seem to have always had a pop sensibility in terms of structure & melodies, everything surrounding it on previous efforts was raw, poetic & a touch dark, whereas on this new album they've embraced glossy production, bright synths & more literal & straightforward lyrics. Now at face value this would imply a blatant sellout to crappy mainstream pop music that shreds any bit of artistic merit a band possessed, right? I mean longtime fans have been claiming that left & right. Well... that’s not quite the case. Here Tegan & Sara have merely taken their knack for catchy hooks & relatable lyrics about love, both in good times & bad, and made them the main focus. If anything I’m reminded more of an updated version of the synth pop of the 1980’s than modern crap-pop that panders to the lowest common denominator & puts in little-to-no effort in the area of substance. I’m not completely opposed to squeaky-clean pop production; only when good music isn’t being made in it, or when it just doesn’t fit the songwriting, do I have a problem. Here however the pop production fits very well with this newly simplified songwriting style. And I wouldn’t call this “dumbing it down” like some have. Tegan & Sara themselves put it best in an interview with Qtv (look it up on YouTube, it’s very worth watching) when they said they basically wanted to stop masquerading their messages in metaphors & symbolism in order to let the raw meanings shine through. And in my opinion they pull this off very well in these 12 songs (including the bonus tracks), showing themes mainly of finding love & losing it. Though 2 tracks that provide a slight diversion are I’m Not Your Hero, which reflects on past victories above adversity, and Shock to Your System, a message to the miserable loners of the world to go out, live life to its fullest & maybe find love in the process. Speaking of diversions, Shock to Your System & bonus track I Run Empty provide refreshing changes musically & sonically to keep the album from being completely monochrome. Shock to Your System is a great piano-driven indie-rock song with pounding drums & echoing vocals, while I Run Empty is, despite the presence of multiple ballads on the album, their only song here that strips everything down to vocals, piano, acoustic guitar & sparse synths in the background. I really wish this song & other bonus track Guilty as Charged weren’t relegated to just the iTunes release, because they would’ve been great additions to the standard edition. If there’s one fairly consistent gripe I have with this album, it’d be the blatant identical rhymes & repeated lines within verses on a lot of songs here. It sounds nice but when analyzed gets a bit monotonous & comes off lazy lyrically. Still I’m overall very pleased with this album. I’m a sucker for a well-written & sincere pop song & this album is chock full of those. Don’t get the hipsters convince you this is some cheap sellout. Top 5 tracks: I Run Empty, Now I’m All Messed Up, Shock to Your System, Closer, Love They Say. Rating: 80/100 Expand
  3. Sep 1, 2013
    This is quite possibly the most ingenious album to have come out in the last 5 years years and definitely gets my vote for best album of the year. Reasons being:
    Tegan & Sara often tend to over think concepts and over write songs. This is a common tendency of the very creative. They have had to be very thoughtful in choosing producers who can take their jungle of ideas and extract a clear
    thought. Its not about album sales. It's about giving people something to connect to. On "Heartthrob", you hear this message loud and clear. The shallow and self aware will dismiss it as "easy" or "sell out". It takes musicality and a mature appreciation to see what the Quinns are doing here. They have packaged the lifespan of a relationship into an album. There is a full spectrum of emotions and emerging maturity here. From a sweet rush of chemicals in your body to the utter heartbreak of a failed relationship, one person's life is captured in ten, well thought out tracks.
    In terms of their career, this is a massive stride forward and a marked improvement on their abilities as song writers to pen something that is honest, recognizable and catchy.
    Music does not get more perfect than this.
  4. Mar 5, 2013
    Having never listened to Tegan and Sara's music before, I approached this with a very open mind, although I had heard that it was a good pop album. Considering that they're an indie band, I wasn't expecting them to be so mainstream sounding with this, but maybe that was the point. The album is bright, breezy pop all about the intracacies of love. I was pleasantly surprised to find that their lyrics were not overly lesbian orientated. This is great, because it would be easy for them to become a niche act, but by keeping the lyrics vague, anyone of any sexual orientation can relate and they can gain more fans. The direction makes me think that the duo are intending to break into the mainstream and they certainly could if they play their cards right. The question is, is their new direction going to continue or will they revert back to their original indie selves? Expand
  5. Feb 3, 2013
    This pays a lot of homage to 80s dance music, but it's still Tegan and Sara. They are masters of creating a pop sensibility without sacrificing authenticity. Like many alternative artists, they're transitioning to a more electro-pop sound, which isn't the inspired most choice. Heartthrob is sort of like if T&S took a stab at making a Robyn record with Hot Chip influence, but they did it really, really well. They take this very bubbly, buoyant style, but can make it emotive enough to be sincere. It's a bit of a grower, but it's probably the most accessible Tegan and Sara album to date. Highly recommended. Expand
  6. Jan 29, 2013
    After Sainthood, anyone could have seen this record coming. Since So Jealous, the duo have been gradually adding synthesizers and electronic elements to their sound, and they've gone all the way out with Heartthrob. T&S will probably gain a lot of fans with this record and lose a lot, too, but I'm staying along for the ride. The Con is one of my favorite records of all time and while Heartthrob doesn't come close, it's still a very good record, and in my mind an improvement on Sainthood, which felt like an awkward transitional stage and came across as a little soulless at times.
    Make no mistake about it; Heartthrob is a pop album. If that's not your thing, then you probably won't like it. But in my mind, Heartthrob proves that there is such a thing as pop music done right. This is the same T&S of old, just in a more accessible, danceable package.
  7. Jan 29, 2013
    Uniformly awful.

    I´ve been a fan since If It Was You. But being a fan of intelligent indie/folk/punk does not mean I will swallow an album of craptastic dance pop, just because I respect the artists who spawned it.

    If the twins emulated Ani DeFranco on their first album, on this, their first disposable album, they're emulating Rhianna, Gaga and Bieber. And that's not exactly
    what I'd call an artistic evolution. This is their Rod Stewart Moment. When a great artist sells out for money, and in the process, throws away what was great about them in the first place.

    So if T&S want to go this route, good luck. They will always have a special place in my heart for the amazing work they've done (and for being intelligent, and funny and cute as can be along the whole ride).

    But being a fan of good, smart tunes, I simply have no interest in this, um, product.
  8. Feb 27, 2013
    6.0 REASON Goodbye, Goodbye, Drove Me Wild and How Come You Don't Want Me Great songs and good production.

    In every song you hear influences such as Closer Eurythmics, They Say Love Madonna

    I'm Not Your Hero the weakest track on the album.
  9. Feb 2, 2013
    Before listening to Heartthrob, I'd never heard a Tegan and Sara song in my life so I came in with no long-term fan baggage, and I have no idea how this album fits into their larger discography. But let me say, on its own merits, this is a first rate pop album. Each song could be its own single, and the band has enough personality, charm and talent to prevent the whole thing from seeming too impersonal, slick, or banal. If you enjoy well constructed pop music even a little bit, buy this album. This is about as good as the genre gets. Expand
  10. Jan 29, 2013
    I could just copy and paste Critico's review. Heartthrob is disposable 80's dance pop. If you're into that kind of thing you'll probably enjoy it, but this isn't the Tegan & Sara I've liked for years. Everything that made them quirky and original is buried beneath synths and generic beats. I hope this is just a quick departure and not a road they continue down.
  11. Jan 31, 2013
    As a long time fan, it pains me to say that this is the duo's worst album since 'This Business of Art.' That doesn't mean they've "sold out" or anything. They have been on a major label for years. It's just that they are such endearing songwriters, and this album glosses over everything that makes them charming. They sound lost.
  12. Feb 2, 2013
    I appreciate danceability and eighties revivals as much as the most hardcore nostalgics, however, this simply comes across as shallow and contrived. It makes me wonder how much input vs. how much creative control they delegated to the producer (whose credentials make me think he was steering the ship). If you're looking for airy, bombastic synth pop with no regard for variety, subtlety or dynamic arranging, look no further. There are many other bands doing this a lot better right now and not comprising nearly as much integrity. This was a very obvious commercial shout out and not the creative/artistic exploration these girls would hope you to think. Expand
  13. May 7, 2013
    Such a mainstream record for a pair of pop-underdogs like Tegan and Sara! I'm not a big fan of ballads, but Greg Kurstin does an impeccable job in producing these tunes. "I Was A Fool" is a stand-out, and "I'm Not Your Hero" is amazing too.
    If you were a Tegan and Sara fan, you'll be a little bit disappointed about their new approach, but if you haven't heard nothing from them, you'll
    become a fan right away. Love at first listen. Expand
  14. Jan 30, 2013
    This is not your early Tegan and Sara. If you heard their first single, it tells you what they were aiming for. They jumped back into the synth pop of the 80s and if, like me, you embrace how Tegan and Sara aren't afraid to change things up while keeping true to their deep core, you will love this. But I have devout followers who can't stand this, and think its crap. Personally, I trust in what these girls do, and for the 7th time, I'm not disappointed in the least. Expand
  15. Jan 29, 2013
    I would actually rate this album around an 8.5, but I scored it 10 here because of the pretentious hipster jackasses who gave it a 0 and a 4. Come on, really? There's not liking something and then there's just trolling out of spite. Now to the actual review: Honestly, I enjoyed Heartthrob. After seeing Tegan and Sara put out tracks such as Alligator, Bodywork with Morgan Page, Feel It In My Bones with Tiesto, and other electro hits, this album really feels like a natural evolution of where they're at. It's synth pop at its best, but still retains some lyrical depth and Tegan and Sara soul. It will make you dance, but it can also make you cry. Highlights of the album include Now I'm All Messed Up, Shock To Your System, and I Run Empty. This album is definitely a Sara standout. That being said, this album does have its missteps. Love They Say is throwaway trope and is without a doubt the worst track on the album. I Couldn't Be Your Friend falls just short of being catchy. But still, this album is definitely one you should check out. Don't forget to purchase the Deluxe version because the two bonus songs included are both fantastic. Expand
  16. Jan 30, 2013
    I don't understand why people don't like it? It's not at all generic or mainstream at all because it sounds like nothing on radio right now. With Heartthrob, they put their own spin on groovy synthpop songs with catchy hooks and choruses. The lyrical content and writing style is the same, but the only difference from their previous material is that the album has pop production instead of indie rock production. From a pop music point of view, this album is perfect and deserves to be recognised as such. The fans who do not like this sudden leap into pop music may not like this, but, oh well, you win some, you lose some. Don't be so mad that it's different. Different is good. Collapse
  17. Jan 30, 2013
    I rushed to grab this album, and even though I expected more light-heartedness, I wasn't quite expecting this. You can really hear the 80's influence. I love 80's music, but they didn't really capture the raw emotion and excitement in 80's music. It's like...the bad side of 80's mixed with the bad side of today's light hearted feeling of pop. Something that could have been done right, but instead feels more like a money grab than anything. It will definitely get radio play, but as a fan of their older albums, this should have been a download rather than purchase. Expand
  18. Feb 1, 2013
    what I find truly amazing is how these professional "critics" are actually justifying this record as good and refreshing. It makes me think the whole music industry is rigged. This record, as someone said earlier, is nothing but really bad 80's music. Why should we celebrate something that has been done over and over again? A clear example on how bad the music industry is getting. This is bad pop music..not good pop music so lets make that perfectly clear. Expand
  19. Feb 1, 2013
    I dont get this either. This album is so weak for a pop album. There voices are annoying and whiny on this compared to some of there other work. And the songs sound more immature too. There is no great lyricism in this record. Do people actually like this crap?
  20. Feb 2, 2013
    There's no question about it; this is a divisive album. But the Quin sisters put as much of a nail in they have all their albums. If you're willing to look past the gloss you'll find that this album is rife with honesty and no less of a work of art than any of their previous outings. Hooray for Canadiana!
  21. Feb 10, 2013
    I've been listening to them for over a decade and, even though their sound has changed a bit, am loving this album. I've been listening to it/dancing to it on repeat for the past week. It's a good one.
  22. Feb 13, 2013
    Though lyrically lacking in comparison to previous albums, Heartthrob is a cohesive and enjoyable record that still manages to strike chords of memories of young, unrequited love. Being of fan of the band since So Jealous, I, for one, was not upset with the change in direction. I felt Sainthood, although a great record, was lacking in many areas. As stated in many reviews, the album has an 80s sound to it, and despite upbeat synthesizers, the lyrics still manage to capture a sadness. Although the move from the sisters to make this record more of a pop sound has resulted in critics to call them sell-outs or less-than musicians, the album is meticulous and flows just as well as their previous records; there is in fact a brain to this creation. The Quin sisters best efforts come in the songs Closer, Drove Me Wild, How Come You Don't Want Me, and the last song: Shock to Your System, which is the best song on the entire album. After countless collaborations with prominent DJs in the music world, I feel that Heartthrob is a valuable and emotionally charged album. Expand
  23. Mar 9, 2013
    There's nothing wrong with music which is more layered, or "polished", or even if it sounds "popular". It's still their voices, still their lyrics, it's also still a new sound which they approved of. And so do I.
  24. Sep 17, 2013
    Felt the urge to review as well, due to the negative reviews. Let's say your favorite artist comes out with an album. They felt the urge to evolve musically, to open to a wider audience (that was the goal of Hearthrob, after all). Lets say it comes out, it's pop-radio friendly, and musically very interesting. Then lets say you are an uber-hipster piece of crap that compares apples to oranges constantly. That person would not like this album.

    Listen to this album with an open mind. Melodically, they are geniuses. You've never heard these vocals before. Yes, the beats on some songs are uninspired, but they are digging deep for the lyrical content. Seriously, give this a listen. It's not the best pop album ever, but it's up there with the best Tegan and Sara works thus far. And give the girls a break. You can only wallow in super-unknown hipster territory for so long before you realize you actually have to make money to live.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. Mar 13, 2013
    Beginning with the naughty promise of "Closer," which voices a transgressive assertion of female sexual desire, the duo rapidly devolves into a string of whiny mash notes accentuated by tinny, synth-heavy instrumentation.
  2. Mar 4, 2013
    This was an interesting direction to go in and it definitely has a lot of potential. But the duo will need to do a better job balancing the synths and the songs to succeed.
  3. They have now cracked out the synths, ramped up the drum machines, and found their calling in giddy, lovelorn electro-pop.