Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crushing it

On Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara deliberately ditch subtlety and go for the gusto

  • Print

Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith and Ace of Bass were Tegan Quin's first celebrity crushes. But as she got older and her tastes matured as she turned 10, she moved onto New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson.

"I didn't have a true heartthrob again until my teenage years," says Quin, one half of the twin-sister duo Tegan and Sara, riffing on early dream dates because Heartthrob is the name of her seventh disc.

"I idolized the people I dated and think I'm like everybody else that, as an adult, you think you can't have heartthrobs, but you're secretly obsessed with everyone popular and attractive. There's a lot of that happening in pop music right now."

Pop music plays a large and deliberate role on Tegan and Sara's new album, a record that was designed to catapult them into an arena-headlining band. After touring with the Black Keys and the Killers, and feeling frustrated with dwindling record sales, they decided to go big on their new record -- soaring choruses, singalong anthems and four different lifts on the same tune.

"If you want to drive on the highway and compete, you don't drive a pedal bike. That doesn't mean that the pedal bike isn't awesome, but if you want to compete with the best cars, you have to step up your game," says Sara Quin, interviewed just after her sister, honouring their long-held tradition of living in different cities and separately meeting the media.

"We may never be Taylor Swift or Beyoncé, but on this, that was the challenge: Don't be subtle! If the song doesn't grab you, throw it away."

The 10 songs that earned a berth on the album -- chosen from 50 and written after the classically trained musicians appeared on dance tracks by David Guetta and Tiesto -- aren't radically different from material on records like It Was You (2002) or The Con (2007).

However, the guitars are turned down, the keys are turned up and the production sounds larger, more expensive and more expansive (it's produced in part by Greg Kurstin, whose clients include Kelly Clarkson and Pink).

However, while the music soars and crescendos -- sometimes subtly, sometimes not -- toward ear worms, as always, the lyrics deal with lust and busted relationships, and remain fixated on individual freedoms and rights.

"Even in moments of accepting our vulnerability and admitting our weakness, which we're very good at, there's an edge of empowerment to these songs and being outspoken about our sexuality and politics," says Tegan, adding that being gay women in Alberta's rock scene didn't leave the sisters with many peers.

Addressing this in the song that is somewhat ironically titled I'm Not Your Hero (the duo are absolutely heroes to their tightly knit community of fans), Sara Quin says it's about feeling insecure but being outspoken at the same time.

"I don't want to let anyone down, but you're always going to let someone down when you're someone that people look up to," she says. "I'm a spokesperson and know I have an impact on other queer and marginalized kids, but I can't please everyone. Tegan and I have experienced this our whole career."

The career of Tegan and Sara began in earnest when they were signed by Neil Young's manager, who put them on the road with the Canadian icon. And throughout their 13-year span of recording and performing, they've charted a singular, trail-blazing path. To wit, they've outlasted just about every one of Tegan's early heartthrobs. Today, if their new record can match their ambitions, the sisters will just be starting to turn a new page.

"We may not sell records like Katy Perry because we don't have the full package being consumed en masse, but there's no reason we should marginalize ourselves sonically," Tegan says.

"I love Rihanna, but how do I take that interest and combine that with our sound? The result is this album -- let's just take it over the edge."

Tegan and Sara kick off the Canadian leg of a North American tour in Winnipeg on Feb. 26.

-- Postmedia News

Concert Preview

Tegan and Sara

RBC Theatre Bowl, MTS Centre

Feb. 26, 8 p.m.

Tickets $39-$51 at Ticketmaster

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2013 C7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Maria Aragon performs new single "Nothing but a Beat"

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • Geese fight as a male defends his nesting site at the duck pond at St Vital Park Thursday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 08- May 10, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Have you decided which mayoral candidate will get your vote?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google