Don’t hate them because they’re beautiful lesbian folkie twin sisters from Canada. Of course, you’ll wind up hating them for that anyway, provided they become culturally relevant; all the ingredients are in place to attract hipster ire like a magnet. Dig it — Entertainment Weekly profile, teen-mag style shoots, Indigo Girl vocal harmonies, emo melodies in the choruses, Ani DiFranco obsession. All they need is production assistance by the Matrix and they’d be this year’s indie anathema.
But screw that. I loved Liz Phair’s cred-shredding self-titled, and So Jealous is a good album in the same vein: a guitar-heavy, pop-friendly batch of songs that just keep coming with it. Their primary appeal is in their tunes; most songs are tricked-out with a curveball bridge or extraneous hook, which ensures the fun fast ones stay fun and fast. Three albums in, Tegan and Sara have figured out how to write tight and catchy songs; I don’t want to talk about anything so gauche as music business strategies, but there are clearly four to five potential singles on this album.
I’m not saying they’d be hit singles, mind you. Frankly I don’t think the world is ready for even the idea of the girls’ existence: “You mean they’re hot lesbian twin sisters? Do they make out?” Which isn’t to say Tegan and Sara aren’t trying their damndest; their lyrics go out of their way to avoid gender specificity. This might be a way of disappointing the meatheads, but it’s more than likely a choice that was more market- than revenge-driven. They don’t want to be identified as a gay band any more than, say, U2 wants to be pigeonholed as Christian rock. So the words go something like this: vague and lovelorn in the verses (no he/she bullshit — the only pronouns are you me I and we) and charming everygirl colloquialisms in the choruses (“Don’t get so uptight,” “Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t find me attractive,” “It’s like, come on, come on to me” — that sort of thing). All designed so the producers of, for example, The OC can queue the chorus of, for example, “Fix You Up” and not have to worry about any hetero-homo cognitive dissonance.
Does that kind of talk turn you off? The marketing stuff, that is. If it did and you’ve read this far anyway, congratulations — I would have guessed you’d quit after I said I liked Liz Phair. But what’s so distasteful about rock stars targeting a demographic? From the Beach Boys and Pink Floyd to the Streets and Interpol, they’ve all done it, and you’ve all been taken at one point or another, you capitalist drones. Even if you’re not in Tegan and Sara’s intended age/gender/income/coolness bracket, you might wind up liking So Jealous a whole bunch anyway. Me (age: 21; gender: male; income and coolness: minimal), I thought it dragged in the middle, and their vocal affectations are slightly more annoying than cute. But some of those tunes at the beginning and end are just damned catchy. So call me a sucker for a catchy tune. But just plain sucker? Don’t think so.