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REVIEW: Tegan & Sara Hey, I’m Just Like You

Tegan-and-Sara-Hey-Im-Just-Like-You

 

Canadian indie-rock duo Tegan and Sara—aka out-lesbian twin sisters Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin—recently released their ninth studio album, Hey, I’m Just Like You (2019), as an accompaniment to their new coming-of-age memoir titled High School. Fittingly, the album consists of 12 re-recorded songs that the girls originally conceived as adolescents. The lyrics, derived from the girls’ high school journals, echo the adolescent stations of the cross one would expect to permeate the headspace of any high-schooler: jealousy, anger, chagrin and despondent self-doubt. “We Don’t Have Fun When We’re Together Anymore” tackles peer pressure (“Have another drink, it’ll make you cool / It’ll make you you”) while “Hold My Breath Until I Die” wallows in heartbreak and betrayal (“Shame on me ‘cause I can’t help fallin’ at your feet / It makes me mad to see you leave like that / I’m so lost, running circles”). On “Please Help Me” Tegan and Sara grapple with identity (“What if I don’t feel like I belong / …What if I become all the horrible things I swore that I would never be?”). On “Don’t Believe The Things They Tell You (They Lie),” they sing of feeling misunderstood, as well as deceived by their initial expectations of the world and what it actually is (“The thing my mother told me / Was that everyone would love me / But in the dark I feel so lonely, I’m numb”). Although Hey, I’m Just Like You is a laudable effort to re-connect with their 14-year-old selves, the embryonic nature of the songs ultimately feels unsatisfying, considering the comparatively sophisticated songwriters the girls have become over the last decade. Likewise, the recurring themes of adolescent angst feel slightly ill-fitting — like trying on the clothes you wore in middle school — given the fact that Tegan and Sara are now pushing 40. The music, too, feels a little too anachronistic: It reverts from the poppy and clubby styles they explored on The Con (2007) and Heartthrob (2013) to the discordant and grungy garage band sound the girls first adopted in the ’90s. The fact that the girls wrote these songs as tender-aged amateurs means they should be judged on a different scale than, say, adult Tegan and Sara songs. Still, as a long time fan who has matured along with Tegan & Sara I had difficulty connecting with these songs, in much the same I don’t really recognize the person looking back at me in my old yearbook photos. – JASMIN ALVAREZ

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