Date: September 14, 2004
Author: Alex Leslie
Publication: The Ubyssey
Headline: Nothing to be jealous of Singing siblings only rival themselves
Some siblings pride themselves on strong, supportive relationships; others suffer from the brand of dysfunction that can only be borne of sharing a one-bathroom house for the duration of adolescence; and still others form bands.
Tegan and Sara belong to the latter ilk, along with such honourable company as (cough) The Moffats and (gag) Hanson. And although Tegan and Sara’s latest album, So Jealous, left me cold, I can at the very least respect their ability to function together in a musical group, if only because if my sister and I ever attempted to do the same, it would surely end in decapitation, tears, and one very mangled guitar.
Tegan and Sara’s earlier work, though not extraordinary, was listenable, for its simple acoustic guitar sounds and two-voice harmonies. They facilely found their niche among those who enjoy finger-snapping and frowning understandingly along to Ani DiFranco. The sister duo’s mistake in their latest album offering is that they venture too far from their acoustic, folksy-feely formula. In the same sense that Bob Dylan never needed a synth back-up, and a good ol’ hamburger needn’t be eaten with Grey Poupon™ mustard.
So Jealous features an odd, off-putting amalgamation of Tegan and Sara’s old coffee shop sound with new poppy back-ups. The first track, “You Wouldn’t Like Me” (because what sister duo is complete without insecure lyrics?) begins fine enough, with a simple
bass guitar line and the sisters’ thin but melodious voices, but then—Mayday, Mayday!—a drumset, array of synths and other assorted elements of overly-satisfying, computer-induced sound come crashing in. Abandon ship!
Those who enjoyed Tegan and Sara’s previous efforts of folksy duo sound will be sorely disappointed by these new developments. Musical groups should explore different genres, to be sure, but this foray into pop isn’t suited to the sisters’ strengths.
If I could have one question to ask Tegan and Sara about this album, it would surely be “Why didn’t you just leave the damn synths at home and spend more time on your heartfelt lyrics?” That, or: “Sara, are you jealous that Tegan has a way more interesting name than you? Really? C’mon... you gotta be just a little bit jealous.”