Rating: 2 1/2 stars
Canadian pop rock, twin sister act Tegan and Sara have mostly flown under the radar when it comes to mainstream media recognition. But “Heartthrob,” the 32-year-olds’ seventh full-length studio album, could change all of that. “Closer,” the release’s first track and single, is soaked in synth sounds. Keyboards are nothing new for Tegan and Sara as the backbone of their music has long been guitar and keys. However, here, they’ve turned up the keyboards while backing off the guitar, making a turn toward being more of a synth-pop act. “Closer” does a great job establishing what to expect from the rest of the album, which has an ’80s vibe to it. We’re talking music fit for the closing credits of a John Hughes film kind of feel. Tegan and Sara pull off the sound the best on the album opener, but fail to keep the momentum for the next nine tracks. The ’80s schtick gets old about halfway in. “How Come You Don’t Want Me” is drowned keyboard sounds. It lacks a poppy beat to grab on to. The following song, “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend,” does a better job of dragging things out of the deep end, but it’s a little late. “Heartthrob” gets off to a great start, but fails to capitalize on its early strengths. Still, the attempt is a welcome change for Tegan and Sara, and should get people to take notice.