Music Review: Tegan and Sara Are Just Like You (Used to Be)

Album: Hey, I’m Just Like You

As a new Tegan and Sara listener (they showed up on my Amazon Music banner), I was surprised to learn, after hearing the tune “I’ll Be Back Someday” off their latest album, that the twin sisters are almost 40 years old. The track is pure pop, with a relentlessly upbeat tempo and girlish vocals that got my foot tapping.

Sing-along lyrics reflect the flighty urgency of a depressed teenager who is determined to remain positive while venting about secret doubts — a best friend who maybe can’t be counted on, a desire to run away rather than face some unstated fear, and a fist-in-the-air declaration that, “I’ll be back someday.” That anxious contrast of certain doom and certain victory that teens bounce between is reinforced by the driving drums and repetitive guitar strumming that carry the song.

And yet there’s a not so subtle irony revealed in these lines: “I wanna call and ask, ‘What’s up?’ Go to dial, but then I stop (why don’t you call?)” that most of us can relate to: doing the thing that we fear is being done to us, in this case being ignored or betrayed. Think: “You haven’t called me. Why should I be the first to call?”

The album title, Hey, I’m Just Like You, speaks directly to Tegan and Sara’s youngest fans by saying, “I see you. You’re not the only one that feels this way.”

The lyrics were, in fact, written by teenagers

Just as I began to feel that Tegan and Sara were disingenuously, but convincingly, posing as teenagers in order to make a buck, I did some research and learned that the album is a collection of songs that the two wrote in high school. I also learned that the two have been making music, and advocating for girls, especially LGBTQ girls, for decades. They have a strong following and regularly appear at music festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza and Glastonbury. Their foundation, TSF, works for “economic justice, health and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.”

It seems that what I almost wrote off as cheap pop is actually a commitment by Tegan and Sara Quin to brighten and improve the lives of others with lyrics and beats that happily sneak under your skin to bring hope and an urge to dance off the blues.

While the girl in the song may be back someday, Tegan and Sara have carried themselves, and their fans, to the here and now with hope for a bright future.

Writer, knitter, reader, tai chi student, mother, wife, friend

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