Tegan and Sara – If It Was You

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

For better or worse, I remain a teenager at heart. Or “at mind,” more critically, as what we refer to as the heart is just the product of a learned fiction that prevents us from understanding our own wants and fears and taking responsibility for our lives. Of course, identical twins Tegan and Sara Quinn were in their twenties when they released If It Was You, but it is full of the turmoil and heavy emotions that can define (or ruin) us forever. Tegan and Sara changed their sound a few times over the course of their still-going career, eventually more or less fully embracing pop. I really like this middle indie-rock period, but I am not opposed to checking out both the very early and later albums.

What I Think of This Album

Drenched in drama, this is an album that represents a burst dam of feelings. Tegan and Sara are candid and raw in detailing their emotional states, from the frustrated despondency of “Monday Monday Monday” to the giddy enthusiasm of “Underwater,” with a detour to touch on the defiant remorse that runs through “I Hear Noises.”

I assume Tegan and Sara take turns singing lead but I can’t tell one from the other; Tegan gets credit for seven songs while Sara wrote the other five, and I guess I could try to spend the time to figure out who sings what. No matter, as they excel at writing melodic and insightful songs that resonate with authenticity and impress with their artistry.

The sound varies throughout, with shiny jangle (“Underwater”), quiet acoustics (“Not Tonight”), folk-punk abandon (“Time Running”), and even downhome banjo and slide guitar (“Living Room”). “Terrible Storm” is the only misfire, sounding too much like their fellow Canadian and much less tunefully gifted Alanis Morissette. The rest is excellent, including the delicate and sorrowful “And Darling (This Thing That Breaks My Heart).”

John Collins of the New Pornographers gets a co-producing credit.

The Best Thing About This Album

“I Hear Noises” would have been a fucking huge hit for Sinead O’Connor in 1989.

Release Date

August, 2002

The Cover Art

I think it’s funny, which is a nice touch on an album where humor is not really a priority. The photo is by comic book writer/artist and film/television director (and another fellow Canuck) Kaare Andrews.

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