September 23, 2019 Tegan and Sara – Hey, I’m Just Like You (Album Review)
Not until the early 2000s did Tegan and Sara catapult to commercial popularity when the single “Closer” from their 2013 album, Heartthrob, won “Single of the Year” at Canada’s 2014 Juno Awards and peaked at number one on U.S. Billboard Chart’s Hot Dance Club Songs. That was a well-deserved recognition, considering that the aforementioned record was already the Canadian duo’s seventh release! Yes, that is how long they have been in the music scene, having formed in 1998, in Calgary, Alberta. After the similarly successful follow-up, 2016’s Love You to Death, Tegan and Sara are back with another batch of power tracks.
Scheduled to be released on September 27th, 2019, via Sire Records, Tegan and Sara’s ninth studio album—titled Hey, I’m Just Like You—consists of “re-recordings of unreleased demo songs that the duo recorded as teenagers, marking a slight return to their original Rock/Punk-influenced sound.”
Hey, I’m Just Like You opens with “Hold My Breath until I Die,” which actually sounds more New Wave than Punk Rock, resonating echoes of The Pretenders (“Back on the Chain Gang”), The Motels (“Suddenly Last Summer”), and Missing Persons (“Words”). The mood turns more melodramatic, but the music still swims in the same sonic spectrum as the title track plays next. The ensuing “Be Back Someday” then exudes a bit of Shoegaze guitar noise and Pop Punk energy in a delectable combo.
With “Don’t Believe the Things They Tell You (They Lie),” Tegan and Sara then revert to the Synthpop sound that many of their recent releases are associated with—slightly dark, ambient, and reflective. Then there is the heartrending slow ballad “Hello, I’m Right Here,” whose string orchestration adds up effectively to the poignancy of the lyrics, followed up by “I Don’t Owe You Anything” in the same vein and heartbeat.
The mid-song, “I Know I’m Not the Only One,” may also be regarded as the album’s highlight—upbeat, guitar-oriented, melodic, but with the customary keyboard lines, too. In “Please Help Me,” Tegan and Sara turn acoustic and simplistic, opening it with an acoustic guitar and accompanying it with practically only their vocals and a subtle synth line. Still in the same sentiment, “Keep Them Close ’Cause They Will Fuck You Too” is big, bold, and bright—another memorable track.
“We Don’t Have Fun when We’re Together Anymore” is a different kind of beast—definitely Dance Pop with a glaze of Hip Hop and R&B; it may fit well onto a playlist that includes Donna Lewis’s “I Love You Always Forever” and Nelly Furtado (“Explode”). The penultimate track, “You Go Away and I Don’t Mind,” is another trek to the familiar New Wave/Pop sound of Tegan and Sara—catchy, feel-good, and a bit structurally progressive.
Finally, Tegan and Sara—otherwise the twin sisters Tegan Quin (vocals, guitar) and Sara Quin (vocals, guitar, glockenspiel), backed up by Alex Hope (guitar, keyboards, piano, synths, programming, backing vocals), Carla Azar (drums), and Catherine Hiltz (bass)—wrap up their interestingly new yet old offering with the smooth, sweet, and soulful sway of “All I Have to Give the World Is Me”—a perfect, unforgettable closer.
Tegan and Sara may have already been more than two decades in the music business, but their music as well as the sisters themselves sound and look as fresh and as refreshing as many of the contemporary acts who share with them the Pop/Rock stage. Hey, I’m Just Like You is definitely another gem—a rare showcase of the duo’s old and new versions of their music and themselves. Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.