Date: August 29, 2002
Publication: FFWD Weekly
Headline: Tegan and Sara grow up the hard way - TEGAN AND SARA - If It Was You - Universal

Songs of innocence and experience

Innocence. Youth. Bliss. At a performance at a coffee shop on Edmonton Trail about four years ago, these qualities – the stuff that dreams and glossy advertisements are made of – hung off every note Tegan and Sara produced, intoxicating the crowd. It was as if the twins were swimming in the pristine pool of possibility, and all were, for that moment, invited to gaze at the miracle and feel the opportunity that such talent inspired.

Alas, the girls swam out of that pool and into the blender of the music industry, where the machine kicked in and the puree began. Everything changed, from the duo’s looks, to their sound, to their songs. The overall feeling was that someone was trying too hard to do what they thought they should do, to create not music, but success. The purity paid the price.

And that’s where If It Was You, their third album, ends up. It’s a disc full of much noise but few sounds, of many words but few parables, some tunes but no songs. And yet there are sweet moments, where it sounds as if the off switch has been pressed and the blender stops and that pure pool of talent begins to glimmer once more.

And the damn thing grows on you, like the most insidious radio tunes. No matter how empty the record sounds at first, the best moments are the ones that end up standing out more with each listen. With albums such as this, it often seems that cutting down on the number of songs would help get rid of the filler. But not here. No, if you cut out all the filler, you wouldn’t have a lot left – just a few glimmering moments.