Date: January, 2005 (estimate)
Author: Matt Schild
So Jealous
Tegan and Sara
Vapor/Sanctuary Records

In America, where chest-beating nationalism is the national pastime, a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage isn’t the embarrassing notion it really ought to be, and rockin’ women are still a novelty to most mouth-breathing fans, Tegan and Sara have a lot to prove. They’re women. They’re Canadian women. Heck, they’re gay Canadian women.

With So Jealous, the Quin twins rally for their best album to date (which, considering how many critics got teary-eyed over 2002’s If It Was You, is quite an accomplishment). It’s such an impressive rally, in fact, that it ought to be enough to finally squash all the pseudo-distractions that so unjustly clouded the pair’s career though the years.

Armed with a trumped-up sense of rock’n’roll dynamics, Tegan and Sara deliver their most dynamic album to date, and miraculously don’t lose track of the folksy charms and charged personalities of their previous albums. A catalog of loves gone sour, precariously mended and losing a battle with entropy, So Jealous makes heartbreak seem so beautiful and majestic, you might be tempted to go and wreck your healthy, long-standing relationship just to get a piece of the action. Of course, after hearing the genuine, crushed-hopes hurt in the sisters’ voices on this album, you’ll realize what a stupid idea that is.

Rather, just sit back and enjoy the ride as Tegan and Sara stretch out their legs and explore their maturing grasp on songwriting. Sometimes, the pair sounds like the folk-pop-rock twins that shone on their last album, such as in “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” which revels in simple acoustic guitars and vocal arrangements that swing between harmonies and clashing layers without missing a beat. Most of the time, however, So Jealous sounds as if the Quins spent the past two years in songwriting workshops and revision sessions. The title track builds from a strummy verse into a full-blown alt-rock chorus that, following the simple verse arrangements, hits like a sucker punch no matter how many times you’ve heard it. “Take Me Anywhere” is a happy-go-lucky love buzz filled with keyboards and surging hooks, while “Downtown” simmers in a simple, yet harrowingly effective, bit of folk-rock minimalism. Through it all, the two take love troubles everywhere from the uplifting pop of “I Bet it Stung” to the breathy “I Can’t Take It,” which closes the album with soft-spoken arrangements that hint at Neil Halstead or Mojave 3.

Although Tegan and Sara have their share of ear candy on So Jealous, it’s not essential to this album. Powerfully evocative songwriters, the twins’ shared, and sometimes conflicting, vision would make this album’s songs kick you in the gut if played on a lone acoustic guitar. The extras, which the two artfully integrate into their arrangements, only further this album’s impact. Tegan and Sara are still growing, that’s for sure, and with a few more growth spurts, such as the one found on So Jealous, the two should rank among rock’s most respectable songwriters.