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Album: HeartthrobReleased: 2012Charted:
The first single from Canadian Alt-Rock duo Tegan and Sara's seventh studio album is a collaboration between the pair and Greg Kurstin. The Californian producer has been responsible for a number of pop hits including Kelly Clarkson's "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)
" and Pink's "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
Sara told Spin
that hiring Kurstin reflected their desire to develop a more glossy, radio-friendly sound for the record. "No matter how we've written songs in the past," she said, "we'd fall back on our old patterns and techniques. We wanted to work with people who would break us out of that. We were determined to make our most accessible and poppiest album. Every day in the studio has been a big surprise."
The song was made available for download September 25, 2012.
The song finds Tegan harking back to her teen romances. She explained to Rolling Stone: "Although I do imagine that this would be an okay song to make out to, all I intended was to write something sweet that reminded the listener of a time before sex, complicated relationships, drama and heart break. In short, I was writing about my youth. A time when we got closer by linking arms and walking down our school hallway or talked all night on the telephone about every thought or experience we'd ever had. It wasn't necessarily even about hooking up or admitting your feelings back then."
"In fact that rarely happened," she continued. "It was the anticipation of something maybe happening that was truly exciting and satisfying. We were perpetually getting closer, yet we rarely got physical with one another, if ever. These relationships existed in a state of sexual and physical ambiguity. Is there anything more romantic than that?"
The tune was Tegan and Sara's first ever to appear on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart.
Tegan and Sara performed this song on the Christmas 2012 episode of the teen soap 90210.
Tegan wrote the majority of the song, but Sara and Greg Kurstin collaborated with her on the chorus. She recalled to Under The Radar
: "By the time we'd gotten to the studio I'd rewritten the song, like, six times. The bridge, as it is right now, used to be the chorus. As the song got bigger and bigger, and more and more poppy, we all felt like the chorus seemed too mellow. I'd sort of been influenced by Erasure and Ace of Base when I wrote 'Closer,' and that was sort of what I was trying to emulate: my favorite, mid-'90s dance tracks. I felt 'Closer' was more mellow than it needed to be, so we wound up co-writing."
After writing an initial batch of songs and sending them to Sara, Tegan was challenged by her sister. "She told me to be brave and to write something that I've never covered before," Tegan told Spinner
. "And the only thing I've never written about was love -- like real, happy love." The result was this single.
Speaking with Spinner, Sara compared the song to Pop hits like "Dancing in The Dark
" or "Girls Just Want To Have Fun
." "It's silly and fun," she said, "but if you stripped everything away, all the bells and whistles, at the heart of it is a really complex song and I like that kind of juxtaposition of pop music where I'm having the time of my life, but when you start thinking about the lyrics, the song is really depressing - 'Dancing in the Dark' is depressing!"
This won Single of the Year at the 2014 Juno Awards. Tegan and Sara also won Group of the Year and Pop Album of the Year at the same ceremony.
Tegan and Sara call the house party music video for this song "really sweet and romantic and fun," like a PG version of their own high school experience without crossing the line into trashiness. Sara tells NME: "There was just no hard drinking or acid taking in this video." Tegan adds, "which is what other people did but not us," while Sara raises an eyebrow.
This song signifies a new era of maturity for the duo, who admits to reveling in a bit of teen angst in the past. Tegan explains to NME: "There was this kind of melancholy, sort of self-deprecating, self-loathing sort of era of our band and we're past that - I think we're a lot older, and we're more confident, so 'Closer' was definitely a great first song to put out for this record because I think it did reflect a different side of us."