Date: August 22, 2002
Author: Will Doig
Headline: Tegan and Sara, Sing-Sing

The twin lesbians from Canada have some interesting angles -- they’re twins, they’re lesbians, they’re Canadian. Unfortunately, If It Was You (Vapor), a mishmash of alt-punk influences, is the least interesting angle of them all.

Don’t get me wrong. Tegan and Sara are like, totally cool and stuff. They, like, opened for The Pretenders and that old guy, Neil Young. And track one lends itself to great optimism, with a classically-styled riff ripped straight from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. I’m no riot grrrl, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for the angry post-punk female persona. Unfortunately, it’s a creature that’s been pimped dry by the industry, and Tegan and Sara are either victims of that pimp or opportunists.

If It Was You exists in that PG-13ish purgatory between pop rock and pop punk, committing to neither and sounding vaguely angry, but only in a "you’re not the boss of me" sort of way. Most of the time they stick to straight-on rawk of the Goldfinger variety, a hopelessly played out genre not made fresh by the two young crooners, be they queer or Canadian or whatever.

At times, the highly disparate vocals of the twins sound unpleasingly Powerpuff, especially chorus-wise. The tepid crescendos of "Under Water" only make the vapid lyrics that much less interesting, never rising beyond radio-ready fervor. "You Went Away" similarly coasts on stock rhythms, tossing in the obligatory Green Day-esque abrupt acoustic break.

The album succeeds on a certain level, and if your expectations are low, it should suit just fine. It's all bubbly, summery pop, but it feels like a splash of Sun-In when what you really want is the full bleach job.