With its upcoming seventh CD, “Heartthrob,” Canadian twin-sister act Tegan and Sara might have composed the ultimate breakup album.
They did it in an unusually startling style by setting aside their acoustic guitars for new wave-school synthesizers on Greg Kurstin/Mike Elizondo-helmed tearjerkers such as “Goodbye, Goodbye,” “I Was a Fool,” “I’m Not Your Hero” and “How Come You Don’t Want me.”
But there’s just one little aesthetic problem, according to Sara Quin: “We didn’t actually break up!”
The siblings, 32 — who appear at Live 105’s “Not So Silent Night” on Saturday — were born in Calgary, Alberta. But Tegan resides in Los Angeles with her girlfriend of five years; Sara and her significant other of two years now call New York City home.
During the record’s genesis, says Sara, “My life was completely drama-free, I was really healthy, I had a ton of time to myself to write, and things were just right in my world. But when I sit down to write a song, it doesn’t matter if I’m in a happy place or a sad place — what fascinates me are the things that have hurt me, not the things that have made me feel good.”
Only as the record was nearing completion, Sara adds, did it occur to her: What, exactly, would her girlfriend make of a soul-searing confession such as “Now I’m All Messed Up”?
“It’s hard, because you can’t imagine her not thinking to herself, ‘What the hell are you talking about?!’” Sara says. “So it was interesting, because I really was — and am — in a totally happy, comfortable relationship, but I was completely transfixed on how it would end, and how it would be really terrible.”
On previous releases such as “The Con” and “Sainthood,” the duo’s music was somber, thematically and sonically — something best listened to alone, at bedtime, on headphones, Sara says.
“But in terms of the melodies and instrumentation on ‘Heartthrob,’ we wanted something that was upbeat, and we knew it didn’t need a ton of guitars,” says the singer, who programmed much of it herself. “We’re also very cognizant of the ’80s influence that happened early on in our development, so this music is still dark and depressing, but it’s the kind that makes you want to dance.”
Now, the Quins view tragedy as just another tool of the trade. “I only had to have my heart broken once to be able to spend the rest of my life thinking about it,” Sara says. “And — as storytellers — it’s not necessarily important that it just happened. The blood doesn’t have to be fresh, I guess is what I’m saying!”