Author: Kristin Baver, A&E Editor
Publication: The Keystone
Headline: Record Revolutions: Tegan and Sara - So Jealous
When Canadian twins Tegan and Sara Quin released their debut album This Business of Art, it barely caused a blip on the radar with its one noteworthy accomplishment of landing the sisters on the soundtrack for the Keanu Reeves/Charlize Theron waiting-to-die-romance Sweet November, with their single "My Number." Although the film left much to be desired, the track was a well-layered web of percussion, bass and throaty vocals accented by a flutter of piano keys in the backdrop.
Their latest effort, So Jealous, bears little resemblance to that first success. Gone are the breathy harmonies, the growling vocals of one sister sustained by the gentle crooning of the other. The duo, which once focused on rhythms to urbanize their folksy sound, has adulterated their sound in the name of rock 'n roll. With the help of former Weezer bassist and Rentals front-man Matt Sharp on keyboards, Tegan and Sara pack in more drum and guitar parts to add girth to their whiney rocker vocals and add Sharp for effect.
So Jealous does have some catchy rhythms and hard-driving beats that breathe new life into their relaxed musical approach. The songs, still written by Tegan and Sara, are lyrically reminiscent of their older work, but the vocals are remarkably different from This Business of Art. Whether this can be blamed on the fact that Tegan and Sara were a mere 19 years old when they recorded their debut in 2000 or if they have since decided to experiment with straining their vocal cords is still unclear.
What is painfully obvious, however, is the stark contrast between the soothing melodies of their earlier work and the biting, higher-pitched harmonies of So Jealous. The title track provides a musical record of this phenomenon. What begins with a quiet electronic murmur fluctuates between guitar-infused, drum-beating segments and the soothing sounds of acoustic guitar and an understated keyboard.
Lyrics were never Tegan and Sara's forte, but So Jealous does see the sisters picking a topic, albeit one that's overdone, and sticking to it. While "My Number" ran the gamut from "If I gave you my number/ would it still be the same/ if I saved you from drowning" to "I'm gonna win the endless war/ over who kills the last koala bear/ and who in death will love him more," with very little cohesion in between, most of the tracks on So Jealous focus on heartbreak without throwing koalas into the mix. Similar to "Where do you go/ with your broken heart in tow" in "Where does the good go," the lyrics are standard fare for angst-ridden musings.
Comparisons aside, the initial vocal burst of "You Wouldn't Like Me," the first track on So Jealous, leaves the listener with a feeling a little bit like biting down on a stainless steel fork. The effect can be especially startling if one were expecting the gravelly-voiced duo that composed The Business of Art.
To be fair, if you can ignore the chronic whine and the unpleasant vocal collision that occasionally happens when harmonies go awry, the fast-paced beats keep the album moving even if they lack complexities and are hard to distinguish from one track to the next. So Jealous provides a good background for a late night drive alone.