As lesbians who never reference their oppression or even their sexuality, Tegan and Sara don't have men to lash out at, put up with or gripe about. This may be why their uncommonly detailed love songs are so short on drama — a riddle worth pondering, because their keyboard-heavy, New Waveish music is also uncommonly catchy. When Sara changes up a chorus with a melodically climactic "But I promise this/I won't go my whole life/Telling you I don't need," or Tegan caps a verse with a hook that goes, "All I need to hear is that you're not mine," your musical impulse is to empathize, if not identify. But the objects of their romantic ambivalence remain distant — the focus is the singer's feelings, examined rather than indulged. Tune seekers will admire many of these songs — "The Con," "Nineteen," "Back in Your Head," "Like O, Like H." But that doesn't mean they'll fully connect with them.
From The Archives Issue 1032: August 9, 2007