Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Tegan and Sara

  • If It Was You [Vapor, 2002] Choice Cuts
  • So Jealous [Vapor, 2004] *
  • The Con [Vapor, 2007] **
  • Sainthood [Vapor/Sire, 2009] A-
  • Heartthrob [Warner Bros., 2013] *
  • Love You to Death [Warner Bros., 2016] A-
  • Crybaby [Mom + Pop, 2022] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

If It Was You [Vapor, 2002]
"Time Running" Choice Cuts

So Jealous [Vapor, 2004]
Believe your old dad--"What I figured out was I needed more time to figure you out" ain't gonna work ("Take Me Anywhere," "You Wouldn't Like Me"). *

The Con [Vapor, 2007]
Negotiating different power relations than heterosexual women, they have trouble getting out of themselves ("Back in Your Head," "Hop a Plane"). **

Sainthood [Vapor/Sire, 2009]
I prefer Sara, assuming that's her. You know, that one--the jaggedy one, voice slightly narrower, "Arrow" and "On Directing" rather than "Don't Rush" and, er, "Night Watch" I think, even though Sara's the one with the biographical "grounds for divorce," and even though that's my fave thing here. So put it this way. These twin neatniks are wound tight and make something of it. Those who believe loose is the only real may find them prissy or worse. I think their half-enigmatic little songs humanize the neat. They sing of love in perpetual suspension, only partly camouflaged by the emoluments of harmonic closure. A-

Heartthrob [Warner Bros., 2013]
Not exactly the first pop stars to be better at sex than love ("Closer," "Drove Me Wild") *

Love You to Death [Warner Bros., 2016]
It's kind of a hoot for twin sisters to begin Indigo Girls, wind up Maroon 5, and just get gayer as they do. In the synth-cushioned highlight "Boyfriend," Sara wheedles/implores her bi-or-not gf to make up her mind with a hook that goes "I don't want to be your secret anymore." Other winners include the contrite "That Girl," the erotic "Stop Desire," and the anti-marriage "BWU." But thematically, these women are adaptable. Every track is a three-minute formalist construct that captures a mood rather than a three-minute romanticist statement that expresses an emotion. Some of these moods are more complex than others. But every one is catchy. A-

Crybaby [Mom + Pop, 2022]
Simple and often schematic, which suits both their terse wit and their bottomless tune sense, almost every relationship described, referenced, or just evoked on this lesbian sister duo's 10th album seems to go wrong in one of an unspectacular variety of small but decisive ways. After a quarter century in the biz, that's almost their signature. You'd never know unless you were part of their sizable fanbase that both identical twins had long since left Canada for California, that both are married, or that one recently bore a son who when you think about it may have inspired this album's otherwise enigmatic title. They're that subtle, that indirect, that confessional-or-maybe-not. It would be stupid to deny their level of craft. But how much that means you have to like it is up to you. B+

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