Dynamic duo: Sweet infection from northern twins

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The HooK: MUSIC REVIEW- Dynamic duo: Sweet infection from northern twins



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MUSIC REVIEW- Dynamic duo: Sweet infection from northern twins



Published January 13, 2005 in issue 0402 of the Hook

CD Review- Tegan and Sara: So Jealous (Vapor Records)

BY MARK GRABOWSKI TUNES@READTHEHOOK.COM Really good pop, of the sort that gets middle school girls out of their houses to stand beside red carpets and hold up signs inscribed with statements of undying love for its performers, is rather like a virus in nature. On first exposure, the listener is inoculated with the catchy strain, and unless they have resistance to it due to age, mind-set, or malfunctioning cochlear implant, they will become infected.

The virus-song will not make its presence known until it has marshaled up enough forces to engage in a full frontal attack, but suddenly, you've gone from occasionally humming the tune in the shower to singing it during passionate moments that shall remain nameless. Tegan and Sara, an identical twin-fronted pop group, are the cause of my current infection.

Tegan and Sara Quin were born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and had been playing together for years before their first independent release, Under Feet Like Ours in 1999 under the name Sara and Tegan. One minor moniker shake-up later they were signed to Neil Young's label and released the Business of Art in 2000 and If It Was You in 2002, all showcasing the pop/folk that has reached its pinnacle on their new album, So Jealous.

The album starts out strong with "You Wouldn't Like Me," an up-tempo staccato-driven '80s pop tune. Beginning with simple four-chord acoustic strumming, what really sets the group apart right off the bat are its vocals, subtly harmonized with the lead sounding like a kind of tougher Cyndi Lauper.

"Take Me Anywhere" resembles a Motown classic– the entire verse is just a placeholder for its unforgettable chorus– each syllable of "Take me by the hand and tell me" ascends a simple musical scale until the back and forth singing release of the completed phrase.

On "Wake Up Exhausted" the pair start really showing off– it's about as complicated as a pop song can get (Brian Wilson excluded), revealing songwriting abilities steeped in Beatles and pre-Fab Four sensibilities. The title track is a beautiful harmony-laden song worthy of this position; mixing verse keyboards parts that owe a debt to "Strawberry Fields," with a screaming distorted guitar chorus the song showcases the two extremes of the group. "I Won't Be Left" is (another) staccato-edged nugget worthy of inclusion on any best of the '80s sampler, Moog keyboard and all.

The album isn't all peaches and cream: "Fix You Up" is a painful listen, possessing lyrics that sound more than a lot like Sesame Street sing-alongs than Bob Dylan (example A; "There's not a lot for you to give if you're giving it/ There's not a lot for you to feel if you're not feeling it." Ouch.)

Why pop music affects the brain like it does is a question for the neurobiologists. All we can do is heed our biological impulses– make our signs, scream their names, and listen, over and over again.


Tegan and Sara
PUBLICITY PHOTO

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