by Phil Scarisbrick
Memoirs, by their very nature, propel their authors back though their past, often unlocking memories and emotions that have lain dormant. Usually, when it comes to musicians, any autobiography is accompanied by some sort of reissue or retrospective collection, which one could cynically label as maximising income rather than adding any sort of artistic merit to the release. Sometimes though, not only are the memories of past exploits reborn, but nuggets of work that have been collecting proverbial dust come back to the fore.
One such example of this is the ninth record for Canadian twins, Tegan and Sara. It was while working on their on their new memoir, High School, that they discovered a series of cassette recordings that they made during their teenage years. Not only were they transported back their school days for the purposes of the book, but had also found unfinished songs that ignited the creative spark to bridge the past with the future. As an act, Tegan and Sara have evolved from the indie-folk of their teenage years – through the pop-punk of their twenties to the pure synth-pop that they have utilised on their last couple records. Hey, I’m Just Like You bridges the bookends of this evolution to give us an album that is stylishly produced, but with the grungey edge that made people fall in love with them in the first place.
The resulting album is an at times odd, but engaging concept that is essentially a duo, dueting with their younger selves. The title track is engulfed in bright synths and stylish melodies that underline the pair’s long held ability to knock a chorus out of the park. I’ll Be Back Someday’s chugging guitar recalls the Greenday-loving pair’s pop punk era, with another gorgeous chorus. Hello, I’m Right Here’s simple, piano-led structure sees the younger Tegan and Sara yearning for a future where they expect everything to be much better, but leaves an open-ended conclusion that lets the listener fill in the blanks.
Other memorable moments include I’m Not The Only One’s fist-pumping guitar-pop, I Don’t Owe You Anything’s reflective melancholy and the standout conflict between new and old that is Don’t Believe The Things They Tell You.
The album itself just about reaches the promise that the concept suggests. Although there are moments that are forgettable, they’re outweighed by the ones that will travel with you for days. The exercise shows both conflict and harmony between the new and the old. Though the way the teenage twins conceptualised what it meant to love and live may have complicated over the years, their ability to write engaging and clever pop songs has also calcified. Those dusty old cassettes have been mastered into a pleasing pop album, and it is a much better accompanying product to their memoir than some throwaway best of or reissue.
Secret Meeting score: 72