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CD of The Week

Week of 9/30/19

    Tegan and Sara - Hey, I'm Just Like You (Sire)

    As their origin story goes, Tegan and Sara began making music together as teenagers, getting signed to Neil Young's label before they were even 20 and embarking on a complex career that has lasted two decades. For their new autobiography High School, the sisters looked back on their formative years, chronicling their life growing up in Canada, right up to the time they started their professional music career.

    While writing High School, the twins revisited the music they were making as teens and decided to attempt an additional project. Treating some of their earliest unreleased songs as demos, Tegan and Sara updated, rerecorded and reworked them into what would become their ninth album, Hey, I'm Just Like You.

    The Quins left almost all their lyrics intact from the original versions of these songs, which gives them a unique angle for the listener to interpret. They simultaneously exist with both the original teenage POV and the current perspective of two adults revising their past.

    This means that the sisters have taken a step back from the mature, complex songwriting of tracks like "BWU" off 2016's Love You to Death. Some of the lyrics may be simpler, but that doesn't make the emotional underpinnings any less heavy. "Don't Believe The Things They Tell You (They Lie)" is about lying to yourself while also opening your eyes to the way the world lies to you as you grow it. At the end of the song, the lyric switches from "don't believe the things they tell you" to "don't believe the things I tell you." It's also an early entry into the Tegan and Sara catalog of songs about struggling with low self-esteem.

    Long-time fans of the band will be happy to hear the Quins taking out their guitars again, as the record does a very good job of melding their pre-Heartthrob guitar sound with their more recent synth-pop vibe. Lead single "I'll Be Back Someday" feels like an update of the So Jealous era, with its the chugging pop-rock guitars. And "Please Help Me" is the type of stripped-down guitar track that old-school fans have surely missed.

    The teenage melodrama of Hey, I'm Just Like You is also a way to tell listeners of any age, "hey, Tegan and Sara are just like you." They went through those same feelings growing up. However, the title track itself appears to be about the sisters' relationship as teens.

    Hey, I'm Just Like You closes with the powerful anthem "All I Have To Give The World." Any lyric from the Quins like "Staring down my two halves in the glass" is obviously loaded with double meanings but with the declaration "All I have to give this world is me, and that's it," the song is an inspiring call to choose to the best version of yourself.

    Unfortunately, much of the middle of Hey, I'm Just Like You zips by with a few too many shimmering ballads that blend together and it takes a while for even the best hooks to sink in. In the end, Hey, I'm Just Like You is an interesting songwriting/recording project, but I'm more excited to see Tegan and Sara look around their present and into the future.

    Tegan and Sara will return to the Philadelphia area on Saturday, October 26th with a special duo show at Glenside's Keswick Theatre.

    Review by Joey O.

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