Tegan and Sara

Hey, I'm Just Like You

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When Tegan and Sara began working on a memoir detailing their teenage years, they came across a stash of demo tapes the duo had recorded during that tumultuous time. The songs dealt with heartbreak, identity issues, and growing up, and when they listened back to them, it was clear that quite a few of the songs deserved to be heard. After choosing their favorites, they hired producer Alex Hope to help them bring the songs back to life in a more modern fashion on Hey, I'm Just Like You. Unlike the most recent Tegan and Sara albums, the songs aren't all up-to-date modern pop. Some are fine examples of that style, like "We Don't Have Fun When We're Together Anymore" and "All I Have to Give the World Is Me," but mostly the album mixes different approaches that they've used over the years, whether it's punk-pop (the super-hooky "I'll Be Back Someday"), slinky new wave balladry ("Hold My Breath Until I Die"), alternative folk ("Please Help Me"), or uplifting emo pop ("You Go Away and I Don't Mind"). Hope proves a fine collaborator, building nice musical backdrops that range from dramatic and powerful ("Don't Believe the Things They Tell You (They Lie)" to slick and streamlined ("I Know I'm Not the Only One"). Her arrangements support, but don't compete with, the duo's powerful vocals and inspiring lyrics. Even at a young age, both women were skilled at detailing the emotional challenges of life, and though the songs are very specific to their experiences and struggles, the feelings of confusion, pain, and heartbreak that they transmit are universal. There aren't any squishy teenage sentiments or half-baked thoughts here; these are fully formed songs that cut deeply. The new arrangements are spot-on in almost every case, and the wisdom the pair have surely gained over the years comes through in the strength and beauty of their vocals. It was a great idea to revisit these songs and the whole team did stellar work making it happen. The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been releasing the original demos alongside the redos so T&S devotees could do some compare-and-contrast work. That's an extra-credit quibble that can be easily dismissed, though, because in every other way Hey, I'm Just Like You is a vital addition to the Tegan and Sara catalog.

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