"The music business isn’t just about having a great record and hot ass, it’s about aligning yourself with the right people," says Tegan Quin, the non-stop-talking half of the punk-pop twins from Vancouver, Tegan and Sara.
So she and her sister came up with a novel plan to align themselves with the players in the music industry. "We’re going to handcuff some of the DJs to our wrists for three hours,"" Tegan says. And if three hours locked between an identical pair of 21-year-old Canadian charmers can’t soften the playlist of even the most corporate Clear Channel jock, then radio is dead and needs to be buried.
Tegan and Sara have just released their third CD, If It Was You. It’s a departure from the acoustic sound of their previous disc, This Business of Art, which led them to a tour with Neil Young, a spot on Lilith Fair and a TV date with David Letterman. With If It Was You, they return to the pop and punk rock roots of their youth in Calgary, when Tegan kept a poster on her wall of Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block.
This Business of Art rejected commercial success with its very name, but If It Was You sounds and plays like a top-40 contender, albeit a dark, dark horse. On the first single, "I Hear Noises,"" Tegan has thrown a pop energy that reminds me of Katrina and the Waves against a moody punk lyric about guilt and drinking alone. In my personal favorite, "Monday, Monday, Monday," Sara also mixes the light and dark, setting a refrain of "damn your mood swings" against a sprightly Go Goes rhythm.
In some ways, If It Was You seems a guilty pleasure for a creaky boomer listening to bouncy love songs from a pair of 21-year-olds with voices matched at birth. But there’s a raw depth to Tegan and Sara’s songs that breaks through like the muddy scream on "Time Running." There’s a mature intelligence that emerges in Sara’s lyrics on songs like "Underwater." Tegan calls her sister’s work haunting. I call it captivating. With songs like these, they shouldn’t need hot asses and handcuffs to get airplay. Though I suppose it doesn’t hurt.