Date: February 14, 2005
Author: Deepali Patel
Headline: Tegan and Sara - So Jealous
Ok, let me just get this out of the way. Tegan and Sara Quin are both lesbians (and before you get excited - they're also sisters). I don't know what it is about chick rock that brings out this stereotype, but it seems like any singer worth listening to in this genre is gay. If you're a straight girl rocker, good luck; no one cares. Stick to pop. If you're a lesbian (and cute at that), on the other hand, the world of acoustic and indie rock is wide-open for you. It's not like Tegan and Sara make a big deal out of their sexuality (I only brought it up because you were wondering); they'd much rather focus on their music and their activism - sticking even closer to the progressive indie chick rocker persona. So admittedly, the deck is stacked for these Canadian twins - they probably could have released a mediocre record and still garnered some acclaim. My skepticism aside, though, this really is a pretty good album.
It's not especially groundbreaking or experimental, but everything doesn't have to be. Sometimes it's nice to just pop in a feel-good, poppy CD and bop around your living room. So Jealous begins on a high note - "You Wouldn't Like Me" starts off with some determined acoustic strumming and Tegan's throaty vocals. From the moment Sara joins in with breathy harmony, the lyrics ("I feel like I wouldn't like me if I met me") and the hook have reeled you in. The high continues on "Take Me Anywhere", by far my favorite, mainly because it's so damn catchy. It's also really cute - a fun sort of love song with a hint of trendy new-wave and a boppin' staccato chorus.
Track three, "I Bet It Stung" doesn't really do it for me so much, though it's still highly energetic and once again brings in a catchy hook (I'm seeing a trend here...). But it's only a momentary blip on the yellow-brick road; "I Know I Know I Know" is slick and well-produced, and you can't help but get caught up in the yearning and emotional lyrics (and, of course, that hook).
There's a general theme throughout So Jealous - love is a difficult, complicated, but ultimately rewarding issue. Not all the tracks address this topic; "We Didn't Do It" seems to exist solely to remind us that Tegan and Sara, for all their pop-rockiness, aren't sellouts. I'm not really sure what the point of this track is, except that maybe it addresses the transformation from their previous album (which was a lot punkier and harder). Of course, for all I know, the song is about something totally different. Who cares, it's not that great anyway.
Love is a fairly safe yet complex issue to tackle for an album, though the tendency to descend to maudlin sappiness is common. The Quin twins manage to escape this danger for the most part, though "Fix You Up" and "I Can't Take It" do get a bit sentimental. The latter, though, is a beautifully executed ballad and Tegan's fervent longing is actually endearing. Pop producers should take a few notes here; catch the listener in the first few songs and you've got a hit (it also helps to sing about love) - most people don't even notice that some of the remaining tracks aren't so hot (except for critics and reviewers, of course, since we listen to the CD ad nauseum). Tegan and Sara (with the production help of the New Pornographers) have mastered this art - it took me several listens to realize that there are tracks here that I actually don't like. They're few, though, and solely a matter of taste - my least favorite track (which happens to be the title track) is also a popular one at shows. On the whole, though, So Jealous is a fun bit of emotional pop rock that's both feel-good and worth checking out.