Song 225: Tegan and Sara, “I Was a Fool” (2013)

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This late ’80s/early ’90s revival isn’t built to last—no trend is—but I’m loving it. There was a lot of great stuff happening at the time, but it was buried in production that made it sound like it was happening in a room far away from the microphones.

What would that music sound like if it wasn’t suffocated by those production trends? Records like Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob try to answer that question, and they don’t always work out this well. This is a great album, full of synth-pop heartbreak and the best power ballads this side of a Heart best-of. And as much as the record references past hits, its songs just happen to be great, which all adds up to one awesome listen.

“Closer” was the big single from Heartthrob, and though I love that song, it’s “I Was a Fool” that works its way into my head so far that I can’t shake it for days. When the piano starts, I always expect the song to be straightforward piano rock, even though my brain knows it’s about to erupt in synths and palm-muted guitars.

It’s always interesting to see what happens when a band goes to a major label. Though it’s hard to know exactly what “major label” means anymore, it’s also hard to imagine Tegan and Sara putting out a song (and video) like this on an indie. And I think that’s not only OK, but admirable. They stepped out of their comfort zone, and it paid off big.

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