CD Review - Tegan and Sara's If It Was You
Part of the Indubitable Independent Independent CD Review

By Kevan Copeland
Independent Weekly
thanks to Steph for submitting this article

After touring with the likes of Bryan Adams and Rufus Wainwright, Canada’s Tegan and Sara have returned with If It Was You, the follow-up to 2000’s This Business Of Art.

During live shows promoting that record, the two sisters showed that their stage presence made up for the assertive, heavily strummed, all-too similar songs on their first record.

The songs on If It Was You, composed entirely by Tegan and Sara are more distinctive, featuring melodies that remain in your head long after the record has finished. “Monday Monday Monday” is one of their catchiest compositions; it’s easy to imagine it pouring out of radios into the hot summer air, much more so than the actual first single, “I Hear Noises.”

This Business of Art, with its more acoustic leanings, had some comparing the twins to Ani DiFranco.

Yet this record breaks away from that sound with more electronic instrumentation, as well as a less confrontational lyrical style.

There are some unexpected quirks as well, such as the slide guitar that pops up towards the end of “Living Room,” evoking Beck’s more eccentric moments.

Clearly, however, the most notable and welcome change in Tegan and Sara’s music is the increasing number of attractive, lingering melodies. This aspect, heard in songs such as the aforementioned “Monday,” as well as “Want To Be Bad,” is the album’s strongest selling point.

Lyrically, the record doesn’t venture very far beyond themes around love, relationships and longing. The poetry isn’t overly sophisticated; “Underwater” repeats the lines “All I need is time/time to love you,” yet the melody is what makes it a memorable song worth repeated listenings.

In “Not Tonight,” the twins have a line that captures the confusion that young love brings: “Everything in my body says not tonight/everything in my body says no.”

Despite the yearning, frustration, and disappointment in the lyrics, the songs never drag the listener down. The energetic presence on their previous effort remains, even as they explore a more vulnerable point of view.

Listening to If It Was You, one gets the sense that it will not be the definitive Tegan and Sara album; instead, it is the next step they are taking towards perfect pop songwriting.