The Quin sisters are dance-obsessed.
The Canadian duo’s awesome new album Heartthrob was produced by Greg Kurstin (Pink, Gwen Stefani, Ke$ha), Mike Elizondo (Eminem, 50 Cent, Nelly Furtado), and Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Gnarls Barkley), all of whom infused the ladies’ huge pop hooks with heady keyboard atmospherics and bass-heavy throb.
During their performance at New York’s Beacon Theatre on Wednesday night, Tegan asked the crowd if they were excited about the return of rave fashion, noting that she and her sister used to be part of the glowstick crowd in the late ’90s.
The duo may have masked their penchant for massive pop hooks on their earliest releases, which tended to lean on indie-folk singalongs. Slowly though, they added more crunch and jitter, punking up the guitars and speeding up the drums. As their sound evolved, it became clear that they had always been writing dance music—it just took a few albums for the full-on pop diva costume to fit right.
They drove that point home over the course of a nearly two-hour set at the Beacon, which featured a healthy dose of Heartthrob. Though those songs are mostly radio-ready smashes (“Drove Me Wild” seems particularly primed for heavy rotation), Tegan was almost apologetic about rolling out so much new stuff.
But they proved to be the overwhelming highlights of the night. The one-two punch of set-closing songs “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “Closer” made an exquisite case for Tegan and Sara as top-tier pop stars, their dynamic voices wrapping around lyrics full of ache (the repeated refrain “Go if you want, I can’t stop you” during “Now I’m All Messed Up” was the night’s emotional climax) and cascading over tunes that often have three or four heart-stopping hooks.
Though the older stuff wasn’t rearranged in any profound way, the underlying thrust of those songs really stood out when dropped next to full-on club jams like the encore-closing “Feel It In My Bones” (a track originally cut with Tiesto on his 2009 album Kaleidoscope). They haven’t lost their penchant for on-stage confessionals either, as they backed-up their reputation for having some of the best banter in the business.
Over the course of the night, Sara talked about a recurring anxiety dream she has about people running out of theaters while she’s playing, Tegan talked about being bummed out that people on Twitter were using the word “cheesy” to describe “Love They Say” (though she was relieved when people told her they would play that song at their weddings), and they both talked about the game-changing effects of their breakthrough 2007 album The Con.
And if they didn’t drive home that they’re suckers for pop divadom at heart, they dedicated a cover of Prince’s “When You Were Mine” to an in-attendance Cyndi Lauper, who had a hit with the same song back in the day. Sara explained that it was a song they used to cover often when they were just two girls with acoustic guitars, and their rendition seemed to bring their entire career full circle: It spun a strum-and-harmonize base into pop perfection, proving that these girls really just want to have fun.
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