Volume 96, Issue 10
Friday September 13, 2002

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CD REVIEW: Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara
If It Was You
Vapor Records/Universal

Rundown: If Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head is the heartbreaker's apology, then Tegan and Sara's If It Was You is the broken hearted album of the year. But instead of boring the audience with stereotypical woe-is-me love song lyrics, If It Was You almost perfectly illustrates the aching frustration of having one's heart crushed.

The twins from Canada's west coast manage to eloquently beg the question of "why?", while at the same time illustrating the exhausting sadness and confusion of such a situation. Perhaps even more impressive than the message is Tegan and Sara's shift in style. On If It Was You, producers John Collins and Dave Carswell (The New Pornographers), have re-worked the folk duo to be more raw rock and pop. It's a brave leap, as the change may be a difficult one to first digest for their faithful, but it soon becomes clear that this isn't about selling out – these young women have matured.

Key Tracks: From start to finish, the album provides solid commentary on the emotional instability that comes with breakups. "Monday Monday Monday" highlights the album with its catchy organified hooks and begs the question we all want answered: "Without me, what's wrong with you?". "Terrible Storm," a darker song about broken promises, is a beautifully composed track that gradually builds up to an intense finalé, while "Not Tonight" is a calmer track reminiscent of the earlier acoustic sound the duo has been known for.

Sounds Like: This is a more honest Tegan and Sara than their previous albums have shown. Unfortunately, If It Was You is pulled together through its lyrics, not its musical style. The album fluctuates from '80s influences as heard in the punchy album opener "Time Running" to the banjo, slide guitar and tambourine sounds heard in "Living Room." Arguably, it suffers from musical ADD, but it's also the diversity that makes If It Was You one of the more refreshing discs of the year.

–Andrea Chiu

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