I'm trying something new, my first full-on album review. I'm a novice music critic, so I have to work on my snobbery. Plus, nobody has told me which terms to use if I don't know what I'm talking about for music. So we'll see how it goes. Mostly, I just want to get the word out on one of my favourite albums. So here's the review, any and all comments are welcome:
Tegan and Sara - So Jealous (2004)
2. Take Me Anywhere
3. I Bet It Stung
4. I Know I Know I Know
5. Where Does The Good Go?
7. I Won't Be Left
8. Walking With A Ghost
9. So Jealous
10. Speak Slow
11. Wake Up Exhausted
12. We Didn't Do It
13. Fix You Up
14. I Can't Take It
First off, I must admit that I'm an unabashed Tegan and Sara fan. However, that doesn't mean that I'd automatically love anything they'd put out. It could mean that I'd be unnecessarily critical because of high expectations.
For those that don't know, Tegan and Sara is a twin sister duo from Canada. They grew up in my hometown, Calgary, but currently reside in Vancouver (Tegan) and Montreal (Sara). They both assume lead vocal duties and background vocal duties, sometimes switching in songs, and always layering their vocals between them. The sisters also wrote all the songs for the album, played lead guitars, and contributed with percussion, keys and organ. They also produced the album, if that wasn't enough.
Classifying Tegan and Sara is a little difficult. It shouldn't be, they're a pop band. Pure and simple. Unfortunately, pop music, has taken on the unfortunate connotation of being superficial, overly-produced, throwaway music performed by no-talent pretty faces. Female pop has the more unfortunate connotation of being the territory of overly-sexualised lolitas who lip-synch their way through elaborate dance recitals designed to catch the eye more than the ear.
So, Tegan and Sara generally get classified as indie pop, and sometimes folk pop-- which is a complete misnomer. Their first album This Business of Art may have deserved that distinction, but they've since moved away from their Ani di Franco-influenced debut. Their second LP, If It Was You, was filled with deep and meaningful lyricism wrapped with melodic-pop goodness, and remains one of my favourite albums ever. This led to the question of what direction they would take with So Jealous.
The album isn't as musically-upbeat as its predecessor, but it still a pop record, with some touches of emo and a little synth-pop touches thrown in courtesy of former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp, who contributes on a few songs playing the piano and the moog. Upon first listen, I didn't like it as much as If It Was You, which is understandable. How can a new record stand up to a CD you've devoured with one listen? However, since then I've played the album a lot, and must say that I really enjoy it. I really like the new sound they've created, even if they aren't necessarily covering new ground. The album's theme is familiar-- love. This is their favourite subject, and it shows. Luckily, I'm a big fan of love. Also, one can come at it from many angles, and they do. This album is chock-full of clever observations and lyrics that will undoubtably be used for many a blog title.
The first single, "Walking With a Ghost", is an ultra-catchy number that, uncharacteristically, is almost entirely musically-based, as opposed to lyrically-based. There's actually only 5 lines in the song, so it's all about the strumming of the guitar, the beat of the drum, and the moog. C'mon, it has a moog! How could it not be cool? Catchy as it is, it's not my favourite song on the LP. That honour is currently being battled out by "So Jealous", "You Wouldn't Like Me", and "Where Does the Good Go?".
Bottom line, the whole album is good. No, it's great. One of the reasons I love Tegan and Sara so much is that with this album, as with their last album, they craft albums that are beginning-to-end great. They could easily select any of the songs as a single. If you're a fan of good female pop, real melodic pop-- not bubblegum pop, with lyrics as involving as the music, then I can't see how you don't like this album. I think this will be their breakout to moderate mainstream success.5/5