Tegan and Sara - Crybaby Music Album Reviews

Tegan and Sara - Crybaby Music Album Reviews
The duo’s latest album reaches back into their past but gets stuck in a strange middle ground between big-budget indie and low-budget pop.

It’s fitting that for a duo who have counseled and comforted innumerable teen weirdos throughout the years, Tegan and Sara have spent the last decade of their career in a strange state of arrested development. With the release of 2013’s Heartthrob, the twin sisters made a surprising—and, crucially, successful—pivot to bold, sharply-written ’80s-inspired pop, the kind they listened to as kids. That album and its lead single, the cheeky and still-dazzling “Closer,” were some of the pair’s most commercially successful records to date; unsurprisingly, they have been drawing from the same well ever since, to quickly diminishing returns. First came 2016’s Love You to Death, which spawned the brilliant single “Boyfriend,” but otherwise paled in comparison to its predecessor. And then there was 2019’s Hey, I’m Just Like You, a sweet but altogether patchy album of teenage demos redone in the band’s 2010s style.

Crybaby attempts to return, at least in part, to the hook-driven indie-rock of the band’s earlier records. Working with producer John Congleton—who, ironically, is better known for working with artists like Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten to make their records sound bigger, not smaller—the pair actively attempt to scuff up the pristine finish of their recent output, bringing guitars and live drums back to the fore and embracing shaggier song structures and roughed up vocals.

At the same time, Tegan and Sara clearly can’t entirely let go of pop music. So Crybaby is stuck in a strange middle ground between big-budget indie and low-budget pop: it’s all yelped vocals and the kind of vocal processing that Skrillex and Diplo popularized with “Where Are Ü Now,” which then proceeded to dominate pop for the next five or so years. The overwhelming flavor of Crybaby is pitched-up ornamental vocal sample, and it gives the album an embarrassing pungency, like milk left out of the fridge a minute too long; the technique appears on nearly every song, and it means that even the best songs here—brash opener “I Can’t Grow Up”, lovely would-be country ballad “Faded Like a Feeling,” the devastatingly weary “Whatever That Was”—feel like they’re demos recorded in 2014.

At times, Crybaby does actually manage to identify potential new paths forward for Tegan and Sara. “I Can’t Grow Up” plays like a brighter, more melodic take on electroclash, with its yelped, anxious verses (“You spin me ‘round again/Twist my head until you hear ‘pop’”) providing some of the record’s most exciting, full-blooded moments. Touching on ideas of reliving unhealthy relationship dynamics over and over, it’s an appealingly spiky song, one far more sharply realized than much of the rest of the record. Not every song feels as deft, and many lack the incisive specificity that is the Quins’ trademark: The maudlin synth-ballad “Yellow” in particular, with its chorus of “this bruise ain’t black, it’s yellow/My sweet heart sings out like the devil” feels unusually confused, caught up in swampy attempts at wordplay.

It’s understandable that Tegan and Sara are caught in some endless transit between the pop-punk of their 2000s output and the gloss of their 2010s work; the past few years have seen the pair release full-album reinterpretations of both The Con and So Jealous, write a memoir, and have that memoir turned into a TV show. But Crybaby displays neither the maturity of a band in a retrospective era, nor the sense of fun of a band trying not to grow up; instead, there’s something loose-ended about it—like it’s a companion piece to all the mythmaking and nostalgizing, rather than the other way around.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Tegan and Sara - Crybaby Music Album Reviews Tegan and Sara - Crybaby Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 11, 2022 Rating: 5


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