Tegan Quin, half of the Canadian singer-songwriter duo Tegan and Sara, insists it’s possible: You can be in a band with your identical twin sister for almost 15 years before you find a way to truly work together.
“ ‘Heartthrob’ is really the first Tegan and Sara record,” Quin, 32, says of the duo’s seventh studio release. “On every song, we sing together. We’d never sung with each other on each other’s songs on a record before.”
The upbeat, synth-heavy album gave Tegan and Sara their highest debut ever when it entered the
Billboard Top 200 at No. 3 in January. It’s the result of a career’s worth of lessons and serious thinking about their future.
“I don’t want to be the same old Tegan and Sara putting out another record,” Quin says. “Management changed after our last record, and they told us, ‘The only people who are behaving like you’re an indie rock band are you. Do whatever you want.’ ”
Dutch producer/DJ Tiesto helped them figure out what that was. After the duo’s 2007 album “The Con” was released, he reached out to the sisters to work on a track for his “Kaleidoscope” album. The result was “Feel It in My Bones,” a dance track with the “tortured empowerment and rejection” lyrics, as Quin puts it, of all of their own songs.
“Our fan base was suddenly metalheads and dance people and the indie rock people and college kids,” Quin says. “It was great to see we could have diversity in our musical catalog, and it didn’t scare [fans away].”
The Tiesto track taught them they could make music with others. For “Heartthrob,” the sisters wrote and recorded with producer Greg Kurstin (Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson), and they wrote the breakup ballad “How Come You Don’t Want Me” with fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff.
“Everyone says this record sounds so different,” Quin says. “It’s because we changed — we actually became a band. We’ve grown to trust each other’s opinion.”
On the duo’s earlier albums full of guitar-powered breakup songs, each sister would write and provide vocals for individual tracks, with little input from the other. “Now, when Sara sends me a song and I tell her the bridge can be better, she’ll just go back and rewrite it,” Quin says.
The album title was her idea — a nod to a role they’ve uncomfortably embraced as their audience grows, a tribute to the idols of their own childhood and, of course, a comment on relationships.
“When you meet someone, your heart throbs,” Quin says. “When you get dumped by someone, your heart throbs.”
But maybe enough heartbreak is enough? “Sara said I’m not allowed to sing about my heart ever again,” Quin says.Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md.; with fun., Sat., 6:30 p.m. $35-$45; 410-715-5550.