Tegan & Sara
This Business of Art

By Hal Horowitz

That Neil Young is one wacky guy. You can never tell what his next career move will be, so when he founded his Vapor record label, it was just one more way to confuse an already confounded public. His first signing was man-child Jonathan Richman, followed by a snoozy soundtrack to Dead Man, a few forgettable modern rock bands, of course his own stuff and now this: twin sister folk-rock from Calgary. Go figure.

Only in their early 20s but already veterans of Lilith and tours with like-minded artists Paula Cole and Juliana Hatfield, Tegan & Sara seem inordinately obsessed with fellow Canadian Alanis Morissette. With an Indigo Girl-like precise vocal attack, the sisters harmonize on 11 rhythmic, confrontational, acoustically based tunes that sound unnervingly similar. Filled with a spunky, passionate confidence, the duo plows through their derivative approach like they invented the genre of angry young women with acoustic guitars. Lyrics spurt out fast, furious and filled with pent-up, pissed-off ferocity.

Repeated plays reveal hidden gems, though. The modified reggae beat and shimmering guitar solo of "Come On" is an intriguing change-up. The opening spoken word attack, driving drums and galloping disco beat of "Superstar" closes the album with a bang. But the sisters' vocal mannerisms seldom waver from the mad Morissette model, giving the album a dogged, overly dramatic, repetitious quality that wears listeners down. They're poised, assured, defiant and Canadian. Just like Alanis. And Neil.