Heartthrob – the Album of the Year (originally published on GuySpy, Dec 10 2013)

Niall McMurray Says “Heartthrob” Should Be Album of the Year

OH HAI! I was just wondering what the best album of 2013 was as I’ll probably get an iTunes voucher for Christmas from an unimaginative relative.

Hello! That’s an easy one. Without a shadow of a doubt it’s “Heartthrob” by “Canadian rock duo” (it says on Wikipedia) Tegan and Sara.


Oh, rock. I’m not so keen on rock.

Wait, come back! This is the album where Tegan and Sara “went pop.” A bit like when Bob Dylan “went electric” in 1965 but SO much more exciting.

So what’s it like then?

It’s brilliant.

I’ll need a bit more information than that, really.

Oh alright then. Well, to start with, it’s short – just thirty six minutes long. Which is a full three minutes longer than Kylie’s “Enjoy Yourself” but a good hour shorter than most Tori Amos albums. Brevity in pop is very important – if you can’t say what you need to in about three minutes per song then you’re in a spot of bother. It is also PACKED WITH TUNES – which is kind of the bare minimum you’d expect from a pop record, but an awful lot of people do forget to include them. Tegan and Sara also belong to the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-to-fade school of pop. Little Mix should take note, it’s all bridge with that lot.

That sounds quite interesting. What about the lyrics?

Hmm. Actually, “Heartthrob” sounds like it was recorded by two people whose first language isn’t necessarily English but are giving it a jolly good try anyway (“I did behave, saved you every time” isn’t exactly conversational.) But as with all the best pop, the lyrics serve the tunes. Most of them are about being miserable, the rest of them are about sex. These are the only two acceptable subjects about which to write a pop song.

Can I dance to it?

That depends if you can dance or not, but in principle yes. Some of the songs are quite fast, some are quite slow and some are “mid-tempo” i.e.) not quite sure. They’re all uniformly excellent apart from the very last track which is merely quite good, and I fancy was done to keep old school Tegan and Sara fans happy. It’s a bit new-wavey. It all sounds marvellous live, though the disconcerting thing about going to a Tegan and Sara concert is that you’re never quite sure if they’re on the stage or in the audience next to you at any given time. Tegan and Sara fans like to look like Tegan and Sara you see. EVEN THE MEN.

And what’s the general sound like?

Put it this way – many of the songs sound like they could feature in an unmade John Hughes film in which Molly Ringwald discovers she has sexy feelings for Ally Sheedy and ACTS UPON THEM.

Standout track?

The greatest single of the year, “I Was a Fool.” A song so gorgeous and heartbreaking it deserves to be remade by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson.

Well it’s decided then. Thank you.

My pleasure. And if you have any spare change left over from that voucher please buy “Flatline” by Mutya Keisha Siobhan, as it flopped disgracefully and I imagine they’re a bit hard up by now. It would really make their Christmas.


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