Tegan & Sara’s ‘Heartthrob’: A Track-by-Track Feelings Festival

Words by Crystal and Hansen

Happy Heartthrob release day! If you didn’t already bounce out of bed at a should-be-illegal hour to download the album, you can do that now via iTunes and Amazon.com. Unless you live in Australia or Europe, in which case you need to wait until Feb 8 and 11 respectively. Sorry. In the meantime you could listen to the live stream or check out this Heartthrob highlights video.

Tegan & Sara releasing a new album is one of the biggest events on our music calendar and so to celebrate, Hansen and I couldn’t resist sharing all of our feelings track-by-track. First, here are some things being said about Heartthrob by other people on the internet:

“I want to rub my face on it like a cat” – contributing editor Gabrielle 

“!!!!!!!!!!!!!” – musician Allison Weiss

“I feel like I’m 5 years old in the 90’s, being forced to listen to my mom’s outdated 80’s music while she did aerobics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” – Autostraddle commenter Dubs

“It’s going to be the lesbian equivalent of how the folk scene reacted when Bob Dylan went electric” – contributing music writer Elaine

“Finally T&S are catering to me and my low-brow pop taste” – design director Alex

So what do you think? Love it? Hate it? Need to hear it another 418 times before committing to a verdict? This is a safe space for you to process your every single Heartthrob-related thought and feeling.


 Tegan & Sara’s Heartthrob: Track-by-Track


Hansen: I was really obsessed with this song from the moment I heard it. I have since spent many a day and night dancing around my apartment while listening to “Closer” and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet. It just encompasses all of the fun, giddy feelings of liking someone and evokes that through catchy melodies and dance beats. I really can’t say enough good things about it. What a perfect first single. It also works so well as the first song because it’s decisive–if you like this song, you’re going to like the album.

Crystal: Love the hook, the soaring synths, all of it. I think releasing it first was a really brave choice. A safer option might’ve been to lead with “I’m Not Your Hero”, as it straddles indie/pop more than electro-pop and could’ve appeared on Sainthood. It might’ve provided a more gentle transition for those few folk fans who responded to “Closer” by denouncing the band on tumblr and setting fire to their autographed ink blots. I’m glad that they didn’t play safe, though. This is pop at full throttle and they’re owning it. This entire album was a really brave choice.

Hansen: Yes, this. They’re definitely owning it. I think they came out really strong with this single and it was a good choice. I thought Sainthood was a great album, but it didn’t do well sales-wise, so maybe that’s why they went with something so vastly different? It seems like they made such a conscious effort to evolve their sound and showcase that with “Closer.”

Crystal: Sainthood is my favourite Tegan and Sara record. That it didn’t sell very well is really upsetting news.

“Goodbye, Goodbye”

Hansen: Man, the keyboards in this are just reeeeeally pushing that 80s agenda Heartthrob has. I still liked this one right off the bat for the sole reason of listening to it once and four hours later being able to sing the chorus in the shower. This is the song I’d play in the car while driving away from the house of a girl I just broke up with. It captures that “I totally did the right thing breaking that off! Best idea ever!” feeling that comes before you find yourself crying into your pillow. “Goodbye, Goodbye” is that personal high five you need after a break-up.

Crystal: The intro reminds me of messing around with Casio keyboards in high school music class and I haven’t yet decided if that’s a good thing.

“I Was A Fool”

Crystal: If I listened to this song blind then I’m not certain that I’d be able to pick that it was made by Tegan and Sara, at least not until the bridge. I’m not crazy about it. I prefer my pop to be a little gritty and this is just so smooth and velvety, it doesn’t feel real. What I do really enjoy is how they’ve revived the word ‘fool’. It’s “on theme”.

Hansen: I definitely agree with how smooth and velvety this song is, but I like that. Tegan and Sara used to have such growly little voices back in albums like Under Feet Like Ours and I think they’ve just started owning their natural voices. I loved this song from the first five seconds and never looked back, but I hate the message of this song. There, I said it. The melody and song itself are just… everything… I want in a break-up song. Why is the really slow and kind of melancholy song about being in love? Get your signals straight.

“I’m Not Your Hero”

Crystal: The first time I heard “Not Your Hero” I complained that it wasn’t as hooky and soaring as “Closer”. Now that I’ve heard it a further 4,572 times, I’ve decided that this is actually everything that I could ever want and need from a Tegan and Sara song: a catchy riff, weighty lyrics, a stand-out bridge. It’s brilliant. It’s exactly what I’d hoped for when I heard that Heartthrob was gonna go the way of full-on pop.

Hansen: Yep, “I’m Not Your Hero” is exactly what you could want and need in a Tegan and Sara song. It seems like a really different sound for them and I like that. I really wasn’t into it when it first came out, but after reading the lyrics about fifty times, I can appreciate that the message of the song is meaningful and the music is a little more subdued than the rest of the songs on the album.

Crystal: “I’m not your hero but that doesn’t mean I’m not brave” is my favorite line from this album, very closely followed by “standing in the shadow of a damaged heart.” If I was going to tattoo any Heartthrob lyrics onto my body then it’d definitely be these ones.

“Drove Me Wild”

Crystal: This song reminds me of the classic 80s synth-pop hit, “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” by Belinda Carlisle, which is a very good song. I really love the driving keyboard riff, it’s rad.

Hansen: I think this was the first thought you wrote about this album and I can’t even think of anything but Belinda Carlisle now. Still, I really, really love this song. I want to listen to this song in the summer, late at night. That’s exactly how you should listen to this song. I still can’t sort out if this song is a love song or not? Is this song reminiscing a great almost-relationship, because that’s all I can figure out.

“How Come You Don’t Want Me”

Crystal: My #1 feeling about this song is the sadface emoticon. My #2 feeling is that it’s my favorite song on Heartthrob. I think it has a lot to do with the bridge, which is killer; I dig it almost as much as the bridge of “The Cure”. Lyrically it’s a good soundtrack for my abandonment issues.

Hansen: This song took a lot of listens to grow on me. At first it hurt my ears because it was whiny, but now I think I like that it’s whiny. I love the simple lyrics, mostly because they’re verbatim what I’ve thought during a heartbreak.The keyboards feel really natural in this song, where in other songs I found them to be a little jarring. They work in this one, though. The drum machine on the other hand, what the fuck is going on there?

“I Couldn’t Be Your Friend”

Hansen: This is hands down my favorite track on the album. How did they manage to perfect that depressing-as-hell-but-still-so-catchy vibe with Heartthrob and especially this song? It makes me want to sob but also shimmy. That’s kind of weird, but I’m going with it.

Crystal: Yes! “I want to cry and dance” is a note that I scrawled at least a half-dozen times while listening to this album. It’s such a bizarre feeling, to be jamming out to a catchy pop tune and then to suddenly remember or become aware that it has a super depressing narrative. I feel conflicted re whether to let myself keep bopping away or try to fight it. Also, the intro could be mistaken for a Katy Perry song. (I mean that as a compliment).

Hansen: I read that Tegan and/or Sara were listening to a lot of pop while writing this album, so that Katy Perry reference makes total sense. I would like to just title this entire review: “I want to cry and dance” or “soaring synths.”

Crystal: <3 soaring synths. In moderation.

Hansen: I like the “in moderation” addendum there. I feel like someone gifted Tegan or Sara with a synthesizer for Christmas and they just couldn’t wait to try it out on like. every. song. ever.

“Love They Say”

Crystal: “There is nothing love can’t do” is a lyric that I’d expect to hear on the next Hilary Duff record, not on any Tegan and Sara record ever. Their lyrics usually, and so brilliantly, evoke the feelings of heartburst and heartbreak from our own experiences, and that doesn’t happen here at all. They’re so generic. I was really quite disappointed until I read this interview where Tegan admits to having listened to a lot of songs that all express the exact same sentiments about love and she was making fun of that a little. I guess I can deal with below par lyrics if they’re intentional and/or come with an explanation.

Hansen: The lyrics are killing me on this one. I really, really hope that they meant them ironically, but I just… my eye is twitching. I checked iTunes twice to see if Taylor Swift popped up on shuffle accidentally. “Love They Say” seems really out of place and anti-climactic on this album.

Crystal: Well it wasn’t written for this album, apparently.

Hansen: That makes sense. They should have left it off completely. Is that too harsh? Am I being too mean about this song? Because I just can’t stand it.

Crystal: No. I think it needed to be said.

Hansen: I would have really liked this song to be a bonus track on the album instead.


“Now I’m All Messed Up”

Crystal: Everyone I’ve discussed Heartthrob with so far have named this song as their favorite, it’s seems to be the fan favorite. I’m not so into it. For me it’s same issue as with “I Was A Fool,” it sounds too glossy. What I do enjoy is how it refers to a relationship between two females; it’s nice to see that songs weren’t made gender neutral in that bid for mainstream pop success.

Hansen: I am so meh about this song. I want to really like this song, because I like it musically, but the lyrics aren’t working. The “Go!” (“Please stay!”) part makes me roll my eyes. It reminds me of being eighteen and in a fight with my girlfriend and telling her I want to break up but only because I’m hoping she’ll make some grand gesture to win me back. That’s exhausting. I’m glad I grew out of that. I want Tegan and Sara to grow out of that, too. But maybe that’s what they are going for? “Closer” has that young love vibe to it as well, but it works so much better for that song than “Now I’m All Messed Up.”

Crystal: I think if this song was released fifteen years ago then it would’ve been a shoo-in for the Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion soundtrack. It’s how I feel about a lot of these songs, actually.

“Shock To Your System”

Hansen: This is my first thought:  :/  My second thought is that this could/should be a cover of a New Kids On The Block song.

Crystal: What if they released an album of slightly revised NKOTB cover songs. Just get on the floor and do the Tegan and Sara dance. I would die.

Hansen: This is my new dream. Maybe this song is just a demo for that album.

“Guilty As Charged” (Bonus Track)

Hansen: I am really into “Guilty As Charged” because I am a huge sucker for unrequited love and secret crush songs. Does anything make better/sweeter/creepier songs? Certain lyrics are killing me in a bad way, like, “I am yours, but you can’t be mine. I am sure you’ll always be mine.” What does that even mean?! And on a pedantic note, “Alone by myself,” seriously? These qualms aside, I do really like this one because it makes me feel giddy.

Crystal: “Alone by myself” made me laugh, it really sticks out. This is going to sound really strange, but, obviously at some stage in the album making process, someone, or likely several someones, would’ve pointed out the redundant words and the fact that Tegan and Sara made the conscious decision to leave them sitting there anyway is pretty badass. In certain moments on this album it feels like they’ve run completely out of fucks re: what listeners think of the lyrics.

Hansen: I think that completely makes sense. Zero fucks. I think that this album could have used tighter editing as a whole, as in Tegan and Sara were allowed to run loose when they could have benefited from being reigned in a bit.

“I Run Empty” (Bonus Track)

Hansen: Way to end on the saddest note possible, T&S.

Crystal: I don’t have any feelings about this song whatsoever. I feel like I should, because the song is really depressing and I am not usually such a robot. I feel nothing.

Hansen: I am also a cold-hearted robot about this song. I’m going to give them a pass on this one because it’s a bonus track and I’m going to pretend it’s not really on the album.


Final Thoughts

Hansen: I do believe that the intention with making Heartthrob was to make a fun, dance, electro-pop album. They definitely achieved this. Heartthrob is not the soul-searching and agony of The Con, as I have heard so many dissatisfied people say, but the comparison is irrelevant because Heartthrob was never meant to be The Con. Am I going to spend nights crying myself to sleep over how this album just gets me? No, but I will appreciate Heartthrob for what it is: a great album to listen to while dancing, driving, being with friends, and working out.

Overall, I feel that Heartthrob is really conflicting and divisive. When I love a song on Heartthrob, I really love it and think it’s the best stuff Tegan and Sara have put out yet. Other songs fall so short of my expectations that I am severely disappointed. If you were a fan of Sainthood and So Jealous, I think you’re going to enjoy this album. Sainthood was the perfect ambassador album from The Con to Heartthrob, so the evolution seems as natural as an indie-rock duo making electro-pop can be. There are some really great songs on Heartthrob, and I do believe that they are brilliant enough to carry the album on their own.

Crystal: I would’ve bought this album purely for “Closer,” “I’m Not Your Hero” and “How Come You Don’t Want Me.” Those songs are just so solid, I’d recommend Heartthrob for those alone.

After falling head-over-heels with the pop sounds on Sainthood and then again with “Closer,” I was really amped to see what Next Level Tegan & Sara Pop would be like. I have mixed feelings. Heartthrob sounds like an indie-pop band’s attempt at creating an electro-pop album. It sounds like a whole lot of synths and ambition. It doesn’t feel as organic and cohesive as any of Tegan and Sara’s previous records and less priority seems to have been given to storytelling (or maybe the stories are just less obvious because they’re wrapped up in such an upbeat package).

On the upside, Heartthrob is fun and catchy and different to all the other pop blasting through my radio right now. With mainstream success as the ultimate goal, I would’ve expected Tegan and Sara to rein in the creativity and e-experimentation a little, and I love that they didn’t. Heartthrob is not a safe record, there’s nothing pedestrian about it. Tegan and Sara wrote the pop music that they wanted to write and risked alienating some of their indie-loving fans in the process, and I admire that daring.

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. I feel like every Tegan and Sara record ever falls into to categories for me: 1.) the indie-rock, rip my heart out kind of album that’ll make me sob at night 2.) the type of record that I’ll listen and awkwardly dance to 24/7 while always thinking that I actually like their other works better.
    Yeah, of course Heartthrob is definitely the latter.

  2. I downloaded it at 12:08 this morning and set Closer as my alarm as incentive to actually get up. I’ve listened to about half of it at this point and can probably finish and listen again during my next gap between classes, at which point I will actually read the track-by-track portion of this article.

    Also I’m imagining that everyone else I see wearing headphones this morning is listening to Heartthrob.

    • Also my phone is a shitface this morning and this comment took three tries to post and I STILL mistyped my email and lost my picture.

  3. nice read. as always I’m way more into saras song. also thanks for the interview link,I totes judged T&S for ‘love they say’ a lot!
    so overall I really like the album for what it is. fun and catchy. but I do feel sad for all the baby dykes out there who are just discovering their gayness/tegan&sara and have to start w/ heartthrob and heartthrob songs being played at shows. I feel like the old stuff is better to obsess over.

  4. It took a few listens- but I love Heartthrob! “Shock to your System” and “How Come you Don’t Want Me” are my favorites. They played 6 songs or so from this album at their Richmond concert- and they rocked! The album is different, but that doesn’t make it bad. It just adds variety to their sound.

  5. ‘I want to cry and dance’ describes my feelings for this album just perfectly. I love how different it is and yeah, I like it even though I’m usually more for guitars and acoustic stuff and such.

    Also I think ‘Love they say’ perfectly makes sense if you know it was written for a soundtrack because that’s what it sounds like: a love song for a romantic movie. So I’ll have to say: well done, you guys. Even if it might feel out of place at first.

    All in all: mission accomplished. This is a fine pop record. Now we only need summer-y weather to go with it..

  6. I’m in love with this album. When Closer was released I became obsessed with it, then I’m Not Your Hero came out and the exactly same thing happened, and subsequently every song that kept appearing I kept loving, which is rare for me. I feel it’s a very cohesive album, I disagree with Crystal there. It is definitely mainstream, but it’s still clever pop while managing to be heartfelt, in a Robyn’s Dancing On My Own kinda way. It doesn’t sound generic at all, and being able to move towards a more mainstream sound without falling into the same generic dance tricks and overdone patterns as everybody else is not something many pop artists achieve anymore.

    Maybe because my Tegan and Sara knowledge prior to this album was reduced to a few singles that i didn’t have any preset ideas of what to expect, but it’s easily my favorite album since Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die.

    • I think the reason I love Heartthrob so much is because I’ve been listening to Robyn waaay too much. Also, I really really like Love They Say…I might be the only one. It just sounds so familiar but every time I listen to it, I still get excited.

      • I like Love They Say! It’s so insanely catchy…the lyrics are kind of hilaribad but the music is so good.

  7. Okay, so of course I love Closer, I’m Not Your Hero was immediately a favorite, and now that I’ve listened to the whole thing, I love Drove Me Wild SO MUCH. It’s super perfect and gives me happy feelings and memories of a girl I was sort-of-kind-of dating/making out with/sleepovering with shortly after I started coming out and I like it. How Come You Don’t Want Me is also a winner.

  8. I saw them in Boston on Sunday night and their new songs translate really well live (even though Sara had no voice and couldn’t sing Now I’m All Messed Up). Tegan was ON FIRE.

    What I’m saying is they need to release the rest of their tour schedule so I can buy tickets again and have too many feelings in public.

    Also, I think I’m the only one who finds Love They Say adorable but it makes me really happy to know that they’re happy and not wallowing in self-deprecating loathing 100% of the time.

    • I completely agree with you! I wasn’t at that show, but I watched the live stream, and Tegan was amazing.

      However, I really preferred their acoustic live version of “Love They Say” to the album version; I think it sounds better stripped down.

    • I agree! I watched the live stream. I Couldn’t Be Your Friend was amazing. Tegan killed it (and my heart) with that song.

      • I KNOW! I just sat with my mouth open for the whole time, because it was just on another level from the rest of the show (which was a really great show to begin with)

  9. I’m still not sure what I think of this album. My initial reaction was one of sadness. Their old music I wanted to just wipe it all over me and let it soak into my pours. I mean I feel like I could just climb inside those songs.

    I think it’s going to take awhile to know how I feel about it, which is typical for a Tegan and Sara album.

  10. I’m sort of upset about this album. Obviously they have some really catchy and amazing songs on here, but overall I feel like it’s kind of generic and too glossy. I dislike mainstream pop, and I love their old stuff a lot better. I don’t know, I have mixed feelings. I understand that artists grow and develop their sound, but I was definitely expecting a little more gritty.

  11. Also I feel like it’s a little sad and isolating when everybody loves the album except you.

    For me it’s like a funeral for them it’s like a party.

    • Oh I understand this thought completely. It feels like no one remembers how wonderful they used to sound with guitars in their hands. I want to accuse everyone of not being real fans! That seems unfair?

      They have officially become pop princesses and I am grieving the loss of their 90’s alternative sound fully.

      • Hmmm, it’s not that people don’t understand “how wonderful they used to sound.” Artists can’t just keep making the same record over and over again. Of course you don’t have to like this album, but you can’t say other people aren’t as legitimate or “aren’t real fans.” I love This Business of Art, and Under Feet Like Ours, and If It Was You, etc. etc. etc. But I also looooove Sainthood. So no, I haven’t forgotten what they sound like with guitars in their hands, but just also loving the new stuff. If this is what being a pop princess entails, sign me up!

          • Absolutey agreed. Hence why I WANT to accuse people of not being real fans but 100% recognize how unfair that really is. Maybe I am a worse fan for not appreciating their direction? I am all for new sounds (I even got in to Sainthood eventually) I just am dissapointed its a direction I don’t necessarily enjoy. 80’s pop has never been my thing.

            However, its physically impossible for me to truly hate anything T&S does so give me a month and Ill probably be on board.

          • I know. I was looking back at a set they did for Spin during the so jealous era and when I look at that stuff I understand where I am coming from.
            However I don’t even feel like I fully understand my entire and full hesitation to accept this album.
            I’m actually wondering if it’s just that I won’t let myself like it, so I’m going to spend some more time with it later. I just need to know is it really this bad or I’m I just this resistant?

          • I remember first hearing So Jealous… it took some time for me to love it. T&S albums sometimes have to grow on me.

          • No, although all the other albums were departures and sounded odd upon first listen, a couple listens in and I crossed the threshold into appreciator. With this one though when I hear closer all I want to do is turn it off.
            But their songs can take some time to grow so I won’t know how I feel about it for months.
            Maybe that’s a good sign though. Sainthood was the first album that didn’t change for me after the first listen.
            That’s really weird how their music has that quality. That thing were it sounds weird at first but then grows. If this one has that quality maybe that’s a good thing.

          • Danielle, haha, totally! Sainthood took me a while to adjust to, and then one day I listened to it over and over again and I was like WAIT THIS IS SO GOOD! If It Was You will always be my favorite album, but I also have trouble/actually can’t dislike anything t&s do… luckily I personally love 80s/90s pop :)

      • I feel like YOU are not the real fan. If you don’t like the album, that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But putting Tegan and Sara down or putting fans down for liking it is incredibly immature. Artists evolve. Sainthood is vastly different from If It Was You. So Jealous isn’t the same as The Con. You may not like the direction they are taking, but that’s not for you to dictate. And it is a successful record and many people are really enjoying it, so maybe they’re doing something right. Not everything has to be super unique and obscure to be a critical success. Also, I think it’s very noble that T&S want more exposure to rep the LGBT community in the mainstream. They deserve it after going underappreciated for over a decade.

  12. i think i’m just plain burnt out on tegan and sara. poor little baby-gay me listened to so much sainthood and the con that they sound like background noise now, and this one just sounds like some lame pop and teenage emotions. i’m pretty sure thinking this makes me the worst queer ever.

    all of these opinions will probably change as soon as something dramatic happens in my life or by the time i’ve inevitably listened to it 40 times anyway.

  13. “wondering where you’re leaving your makeup” is THE SADDEST FUCKING THING! i can’t even develop another thought in my head because of how pitiful and sad that is.

    nope. i tried for like 7 minutes and i can’t think of anything else. you guysss! her makeup! oh my god.

    • Yesss, exactly this. Also, “you’ll go if you want to”, how desolate she sounds, it breaks my heart.

  14. I’m not usually a big Tegan and Sara fan but I like like this album better than the last one. Maybe even better than their most popular song. And all the songs these two didn’t seem to care for I actually really liked but that’s the story of my life when it comes to lesbians. I hate most things other lesbians love and they hate most things I like. Might be why I’m single.

  15. It took a couple of listens for me to get into Sainthood. I think this will take a few as well. I’m into Now I’m All Messed Up and I’m Not You Hero. The last bonus track got a second play. Usually if I have one or two songs that I get into, the rest of the album grows one me. We’ll see.

    If not, history shows that the next T&S album won’t sound like this one anyways.

    • i think i already like it more than sainthood — so jealous, the con, if it was you… and some of the tracks from this business of art and under feet like ours… those are the albums that live in my heart forever. i mean i realize that is all the albums. sainthood i liked a lot but it didn’t live in my heart. so far i think heartthrob is dancing on my heart and we’ll see what happens next.

  16. I went to go see Tegan and Sara live just after a break up. Sara sang Messed Up. It was perfect. I will probably forever love this album just for that.

  17. I keep hearing the instrumental of Closer being played in BBC adverts for stuff and it jars me every time, because I’m all ALL I WANNA GET IS… A LITTLE BIT CLOSER… and then all HOLY SHIT WHY ARE T&S BEING USED TO HOCK WATCHDOG.

    It’s a roller coaster of emotions.

  18. I must admit this is my first Tegan and Sara album. My little sister has been listening to them forever, but I never got into them. Maybe I was avoiding them because subconsciously I wasn’t ready to hop on the queer bandwagon, which is a damn shame because the queer bandwagon is the best bandwagon ever, particularly the team of unicorns pulling us. At any rate, I’m really enjoying the album, but I’ve been instructed to listen to The Con. I’ll report back.

  19. I love this album so much. I think it’s silly for people to say that T&S sold out on this because they’re constantly changing their sound. This Business of Art and Sainthood were radically different. That’s what I love about them. I’ll be listening to Pandora and some awesome song that I don’t recognize will come on and I’ll be all “ohhh who is this” and turns out it’s T&S sounding different from what I ever expected of them. They’re constantly surprising in the best way.

    • The only reason I would slightly suggest that they have maybe sold out, is that this “new sound” is like everyone elses pop synth sound. I enjoyed when they explored with new sounds that actually seemed new.

      There is a reason this is the only album of T&S I have ever heard on a top 40 radio station…

  20. I have overall mixed-feelings about this album, but positive mixed-feelings. As a record, I think it does a excellent job of capturing break-ups, rejects, and stuff like that, but not making you cry about it. Until you actually listen to the lyrics. The pop-synth feel makes you happy. Therefore, mixed feelings.

    Maybe I just really like this album because I just got out of a meaningful relationship, but am way past the cry-alone-for-days-with-my-face-on-the-floor phase and am now moving on to better happer things.

  21. how come, 2 sisters; 2 twins on a completly opposite country of the world where I am, can write lyrics and make songs which explains every emotion I feel?

  22. Am I the only one that was disappointed this album didn’t branch out to explore themes outside of relationships? It is all they have written about for seven years and I feel like they have to outgrow that eventually. Sara had given interviews after Sainthood about how she has this inner anger at the social injustice she sees, and I was hopeful that the themes in her “A Call for Change” letter would find their way into the T&S music. In that sense I was hugely disappointed that despite being in seemingly stable relationships they continue to focus their artistic energy on this idea of falling in and out of love. Is this just me growing up?

    But then I also realized that just singing about their relationships, and especially their desire, is incredibly political given the world we live in. Small lesbian ladies singing about getting other women underneath them? That’s crazy brave, so maybe I should be easier on them. In any case, I like to think Sara’s writing on “I’m Not Your Hero” is meant as a direct response to this criticism- that she can’t be Ani Difranco, but she’s being deviant and challenging to the mainstream in her own way.

    I guess that will have to do.

    • I personally think “I’m Not Your Hero” is about politics. Walking “the party line” sounds like a politician or at the very least someone involved in politics is speaking.
      Also, the song was released while the American presidential elections were in full swing. I took the hero line to mean that even if a politician isn’t our hero, they’re still doing what they think is right and we’re all “one in the same.” This song really sounded like it was about partisan politics to me.

      • ALSO: The last verse just screams Mitt Romney to me. I know that she probably didn’t write it about him, but that’s who it reminds me of.

      • See, I’ve seen a couple of people say that, but I don’t feel it at all. I think the phrase “party line” kind of puts that in mind, but I just super related to it in the context of my relationship with my relatives particularly, but also with all the different groups I drifted between throughout my whole life, especially early high school years.

        • She said in an interview it’s about feeling like outcasts in the gay community or something. So kind of.

          Shock to Your System also isn’t about a relationship – it’s about depression.

  23. Each time I listened to a new song on this album I felt really sad about their change of style, because nobody else did it like they did it and now they don’t even do it like they did it anymore. As I’ve listened to the songs more I’ve grown to like and even love some of them, but I still miss their old stuff.

  24. Okay, now that I have officially listened to the album all day at work I can safely say that it is fantastic. It’s different and it’s the same and it reminds me of the old T+S while still looking forward. Seeing them Sunday night at Brighton Music Hall made me simultaneously want to listen to If It Was You and all the new songs they played. That’s the beauty of Tegan and Sara–They’re always changing and so are you. And you can look back and love them or listen to the new stuff and love them. Basically I love them, okay?

  25. I definitely like the album and I support their transition into a new sound but it’s not my favorite. With The Con & Sainthood (it’s been too long since I’ve listened to the other albums in any sort of length) there’s such a difference between songs and I like that. Heartthrob just sort of glosses from one song to the next. I like the album but I’m not sure it’s going to have the standout songs I love like previous albums. That being said, I’m going to continue to listen to it on repeat and maybe my feelings will change :)

  26. have listened to this a few times to say, and absolutely it sounds the best after a couple pints and some hash. party time music.

  27. I love the album! I feel like it’s pop music I can listen to without being ashamed, ha.

    I may be one of the non-cynical people out there, but I loved Love They Say. It’s cheesy and light but sometimes you need that, after a whole album of break up songs.

    Also, I’ve never been dumped or been on the negative end of relationship break-up, but these songs make me feel the sadness as if I had been. That’s the mark of a good songwriter/poet, yannow?

    I’m going to see them in March in Milwaukee and I literally CANNOT wait.

    • Maybe I’m just a big hippie but I do think love has serious powers to heal and make us stronger…

  28. You know, I’m glad they don’t try to make the same album over and over. That said, this isn’t the kind of electro music that I’m into. I’m into moodier stuff. Little Dragon, Thom Yorke. So I have been avoiding this album diligently until I couldn’t anymore. I listened to the 4 tracks Spotify had posted this morning and…well, I was underwhelmed. But I’m streaming the whole album right now and I’m going to try to listen with an open mind. If nothing else, I’m sure it’ll make a great workout record. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for So Jealous because it was their most recent record when I started fully embracing my gayness.

    • So Jealous was the everything for me in falling in love with Tegan and Sara. I went to their concert in Baltimore after coming out to myself and my sister. I was waiting in line to get in and all the other queer women, it was too much! I cried like a baby when they played So Jealous, CRIED! After they played “I Just Want Back in Your Head,” I made out with some girl with pink hair, oh being a baby dyke at the time was just so intense and magical.

  29. the con is one of the best things ever created by anyone. ever. i like having my insides set on fire. i didn’t really like sainthood so i was definitely nervous about this album. i am sort of surprised by how much i like it. maybe it’s just that it makes sara dance more. sara dancing sets other things of mine on fire…

  30. Man, I can be a crotchety old lady about many things, but not about tunes that make me feel like I’m 17 with a brand new crush, driving home at 1AM with my windows wide open. It’s that kinda Heartthrob.

  31. As a baby gay, I never really knew who they were until recently. But I got a $50 iTunes gift card for Christmas and just decided it will probably be best spent on everything they’ve ever done.

  32. The song “Drove Me Wild” already reminded me of my Ex (capitalization intentional), and then I heard the lyric “You clung to self-restraint/You followed the plan/You put the brakes on us”.

    I was the girl who fucked up my Ex’s plan of repressing her gayness for the sake of her conservative family. And then she went back to that plan twenty-four hours after she told me that she wanted to be with me.


  33. Well,it’s an interesting album to say the least.We knew this WAS going to be the direction from their collaborations with Tiesto and Guetta. Then they added Sia’s bass player and her favorite producer Kurstin).So yeah,smoother dance electro-music.

    I think the top 4-5 songs stand up there with their other top album songs.Closer,Shock to your System,Now I’m all Messed up,and, I was a Fool are all B+ or better songs.The rest,I don’t love.That said I’m sure one or 2 more will be gems live (they always are).

    The production on some of the middle songs seems peculiar.Don’t know if I like them using multiple producers.Several changes to bridges I would have liked.

    I have no issues with their direction on this album and expect or hope they make a different record every time out.

    That being said a coupe of small criticisms.Girls,stop working so hard.Live a little more.Put an album out in 3 or 3.5 years.It doesn’t have to be every 2 years.

    I love the sad love songs guys but if you really want to write an album every other year about lost love or love in general it will get a little old.How about a darker version of the Con with unusual production,and very few or zero love songs? Maybe a producer who knows your music inside and out?

    I think the next step is to go more indie but with radio friendly songs,ala Mumford and Songs etc.,and they can absolutely do that.

    They just need to write some different types of songs.Deeper songs.Also,Sara keeps writing about Emy and Tegan keeps writing about Lyndsey. Am I the only one who finds this somewhat monotonous? I guess most people wouldn’t know this so maybe my bad.

    Those criticisms aside, I am listening to 5 songs on repeat and I love them,but I can’t really see the others growing on me.They raised the bar with the Con where there wasn’t a bad song on it.So they will always be dealing with having to exceed the Con and that may not happen,because that was a really fucking great record.

    All in all, I don’t love the record,but I do LOVE several songs.Also,there is nothing they can do in any way that would diminish themselves in my eyes,so I still love them and always will.

  34. I think everyone is missing the critical point, which is that I want to be best friends with/go to the slumber party in the official “Closer” music video.

  35. I really hate myself for not liking the album. I wanted to love it and have been waiting for it but I guess it just not what I’m feeling at the moment. I can’t even listen to Closer from start to finish without getting bored and really missing the old Tegan and Sara, So Jealous, The Con, even Sainthood. Regardless, hope they get success and more fans through this album.

  36. On a side note what about the album name? I’ve always thought of Tegan,as a real life Shane McCutcheon or worse,if she chose to be.
    Hearthrob,is really about them being Heartthrobs to the gay community and not whatever politically correct crap that they are telling the media.

    Tegan,can/could have or fall in love with any girl on any night.Same for Sara but she’s not a Lothario. I mean Tegan really is Shane minus the quick and messy relationships.If she wasn’t in the spotlight quite as much I wonder how much self control she would have.

    If you listen to her banter she is REALLY into girls.She flirts incessantly.”I was a Fool” is basically about her not giving into those temptations.She’s thinking about women constantly.I think that’s why we get so many love songs from her,she can’t act out her fantasies.She’s trapped being a role model.

    She’s a Heartthrob who struggles with it.It makes me want to understand her more.

  37. This past week, I’ve felt real heartbreak for the first time in years. Well thank you, Tegan and Sara, for handing me this album at the exact perfect time so I can ~process my feelings.

  38. of course I get giddy when I hear songs that reference girl/girl love, so naturally I had to relisten to ‘how come you don’t want me’ when the article mentioned this alluring aspect of it… but i can’t seem to hear or infer any gayness :( am i missing something or was this a typo?

    • you are right! this song seems to be about the pain/jealousy of losing a lover to a new girl (lyric: ‘I see you by my house, walking/talking with a different girl’) however it’s not actually stated that said lover is female. thanks for pointing it out.

      • well we will just have to (very safely) assume then! thanks for the reply, i was afraid to think i had missed some homo-innuendo.

    • Different song, and not necessarily, but….I took ‘where you’re leaving your makeup?’ to imply a woman.

  39. This is pop I can get with.

    Every album has been like a different flavor of T&S.
    Sainthood is forever my favorite, but this is a nice change.

  40. I think this is actually my favorite T&S album. I love pop, especially when it’s done well, and this is excellent.

  41. I’m so pleased with the whole album! I really like Love They Say, though, and I Run Empty is another favorite. And Closer, and I’m Not Your Hero. I really do want to dance and cry through the whole album. Since my gf left me I haven’t really been able to listen to music because it makes me too sad haha, but finally, Heartthrob has arrived!

    So while this lyric looks terrible written out/not in the song, I think “I am yours, but you can’t be mine. I am sure you’ll always be mine” is referring to: Person A loves person B, person B can’t/doesn’t/won’t be with them. But they’ll always be in person A’s heart; always belong to them. If that makes sense.

    Also, I totally see the Robyn influence. And that’s never a bad thing…

  42. because i love t+s i’ve been really disappointed by some songs on this record. THEY COULD DO SO MUCH BETTER, especially lyrically. “Love They Say”? Really, Tegan? Really? For pretty much every album they pick songs that go on the album. If Love They Say made it on the album, HOW BAD WERE THE SONGS THAT DIDN’T?

    Fine, they’ve changed their sound. But what’s the t+sness if they’re not working on the lyrics, either? Their voices? Because Tegan doesn’t even sound like herself on some of the songs.

    Good: Closer, Goodbye, Goodbye, I’m Not Your Hero, Drove Me Wild
    Okay but catchy: I Couldn’t Be Your Friend, How Come You Don’t Want Me Now
    Guilty Pleasure: I Was a Fool
    WTF: Love They Say, Now I’m All Messed Up, Shock To Your System, Guilty As Charged

    I Run Empty had a lot of potential but disappointed.

    AND. i miss the growling :(


  43. Also, in “Guilty as Charged”, the lyrics are “alone with myself”, not “alone by myself”. It’s still redundant but maybe not so much?

  44. The single reason I am out of bed at this ungodly hour is because I can’t stream their album on my phone, so I had to get up and get my computer to do it.

    And the single reason I am skipping my second day of school is because of this album as well.

  45. Laughed out loud at the high school music casio keyboards thing. ^.^
    And yeah i hated Closer when i first heard it. I was so excited to hear it and then so let down i wanted to cry. Anyways now i love it all, accept maybe one or 2 tracks but otherwise im really digging it. God im such a typical knee jerk “this dosnt sound like what they did before so i automatically hate it” music fan lol. Goes to show i dunno what i like.

  46. It’s so weird right now because I discovered Autostraddle when you did the track-by-track-thing with Sainthood, and back then I was just like “why are they talking to me as if we’re friends and as if I should know who they are?” but now I get it! I feel like we just had our Tegan and Sara-record-anniversary :D

    Re Heartthrob:
    I agree with your “I want to cry and dance” and would like to add that the “closeeeer” will always be the sexiest thing ever sung.

  47. Hi AS,

    Let me preface this by saying that I love Tegan and Sara. And I respect and appreciate Tegan and Sara for being brave and exploratory in their music. However, as a whole, I do not like this album. I like 5/13 tracks. That is odd for a T&S record for me.

    “It doesn’t feel as organic and cohesive as any of Tegan and Sara’s previous records and less priority seems to have been given to storytelling (or maybe the stories are just less obvious because they’re wrapped up in such an upbeat package).”

    I agree and disagree with this statement. It does not feel as organic. It just seems a little…forced? pushed? I don’t know, something is just not quite right.

    But I highly disagree regarding the story telling. Heartthrob is more lyrical and literal than Sainthood. Sainthood, which I loved, had a lot of subtext especially from Sara (OBVS). This record IS telling a story. Every song, I can imagine the scenario and I understand it. I think the lyrics are very much Tegan and Sara. I am just not sure about the packaging (as you said).

    Also I the bonus tracks are among my favorites and should be on the main album.

  48. I think I really like this album, though, as far as I’m concerned, they’re probably never going to top/make me put something on repeat as much as The Con. That said, I’m definitely feeling the crying/dancing vibe. AND I just found out that they will be within 10 minutes of my house on the 22nd, so I’m superexcited.

  49. Did anyone else listen to “I’m Not Your Hero” and think, “Hey! OMG Tegan and Sara are directly talking to me personally and they want me to know this” and then just get super excited about that like a school girl crush? No? Yeah. Uh. Me neither.

  50. Ok,hadn’t listened to the bonus tracks.Sara’s song is pretty unremarkable.

    Tegan’s “Guilty as Charged”, well they should have put that in the 4-7 track range.Once again,slightly wonky intro and iffy bridge,but,the chorus is absolutely gorgeous.Love it.

  51. My final comment on this post.What songs(s)does Riese like,if any ? Why ?

    Really,at this point this is all I want to know.

    • i like ‘closer’ because there’s a part where they make you dance
      i like ‘how come you don’t want me’ because it reminds me of tegan & sara of forever
      i like ‘now i’m all messed up’ because go (stay)

      i like almost all of them, i think i also like “i couldn’t be your friend” and there’s something about the chorus of “i’m not your hero” that i really love, and sometimes i like “guilty as charged” and “i was a fool”

  52. I’ve been a fan since “If It Was You” and each album they put out seems to coincide with my current life events. Maybe one of those two facts are the reason I’ve played this one over and over since it arrived on Monday and I absolutely love every song.

    “Love They Say” is actually my one of my favorites because it reminds me of my first love. Back when I was young and naive and every feeling was so new. Those are things that I actually *felt* and will never feel quite so intensely again. Cliches they may be…but when you’re young and in love for the first time – you don’t care.

  53. best album since “So Jealous”. absolutely in love with this album. makes me feel 16 again. like i just wanna dance and make out. the dance/electro/pop feel is different from the indie sound that attracted me to them in the beginning but at its core Heartthrob is classic T & S catchy melodies and amazing lyrics.

  54. I feel nearly opposite on nearly every track to these ladies. The reviewers seem to heavily favor Tegan’s contributions, while I feel that Sara’s songs really carry this album. Now I’m All Messed Up is my favorite live performance song of theirs, but even as a slightly overproduced track it’s still in my top 3 on the album. I Run Empty, Shock To My System, How Come You Don’t Want Me Now, and I Was A Fool round out the rest of my top 5. Love They Say, Couldn’t Be Your Friend, Drove Me Wild are tracks I automatically skip. Still, great album overall. Wish it were longer though :(. So glad it’s doing well because they deserve the recognition.

  55. Ok so I have now listened to the album around 9x and not because I’m obsessed either I’m disappointed :( I knew they were going in a different direction with this album, but I just can’t get into it. Closer grew on me only after getting into the acoustic version. I read an article that made me want to cry saying that for every old t&s fan who don’t like this album that’s fine because another 3 new fans are going to pack a stadium… I’m feeling now like get along was a last horrah for dedicated t&s fans before they went in that direction. But if you want to keep the old and still gain the new for every poppy album you release counter it with an acoustic live one :) hands down my favourite album still is under feet like ours. I wasn’t into pop then and I’m still not into pop now. T&s have been apart of my life for way to long for me to just give up and I’m not going too but I’m now curious in which direction their next album will go, so let’s just see how this all pans out….

  56. This reminds me of my younger days (and let’s be real, current days) listening to B*Witched in a really good way.

    After some serious listening I have realized that this album is amazing. Every time I listen to it a plethora of rainbows seems to appear before my vision and I feel like someone injected me with serotonin. My love for Tegan and Sara has grown to a whole new level. I’ve turned into a raging fangirl.

  58. Unpopular opinion alert: This is my favorite Tegan and Sara album ever. I like it more than The Con, even.

  59. I am way late to this game since this article was written 156 years ago in internet time, but anyway, I love this album because this album feels like me, right now.

    It feels like T&S has grown up with me. Of course, I will always love If It Was You and The Con and So Jealous, but listening to those albums makes me feel like a teenager. Not just because I was a teenager when they came out, but because their sound is of the time they were released (2002-2007). Heartthrob is of our current time – it sounds like other music I currently listen to and love. It feels like 2013. AND it still has T&S at the heart of it – #feelings about #relationships and brilliant lyrics and catchy hooks, etc.

    I think it’s brilliant.

  60. I’d agree that “Alone by myself” would sound a bit silly, but those aren’t actually the lyrics in “Guilty as Charged.” The actual lyrics are “Alone with myself”, which, in my opinion, takes on a different meaning.
    I’d have preferred if they replaced Love They Say with Guilty As Charged, since it’s such a good song.
    Love the beat. You can definitely hear Elizondo’s influence on that one.

  61. Re: Now I’m all messed up

    When I first heard this song, it struck me that this is the first song of T&S, to my memory, where their lyrics inferred they were singing about a female. Does anyone know if this is true?

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