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Tegan and Sara reclaim their independence on tenth album Crybaby


Release date: 21 October 2022
Tegan and sara crybaby art
20 October 2022, 00:00 Written by Simon Heavisides

It feels like a huge understatement to say the world has endured some hard times since Tegan and Sara last released an album in 2019.

The duo themselves didn’t escape the chaos, with changes in label and management combining with pandemic pain to shift their world on its axis.

Maybe that’s reflected in their reclaiming of the sometimes loaded, if not downright derogatory, phrase ‘crybaby’ - who doesn’t feel like bawling their eyes out once in a while and since when was that outpouring of emotion a thing to mock?

On the positive side, how many artists write a memoir and then get to collaborate in the making of its TV adaptation?

All of this and more left them with an overflowing backlog of ideas and motivation to fuel their first indie record since 1999.

Tegan and Sara’s transition from alt-indie darlings to something far more pop-oriented and, around the point of 2016’s Love you to Death, finally airbrushed to a point dangerously close to anonymity, was on the one hand a familiar career arc but also a little disappointing as the twins had always felt different from the rest.

So it’s hugely reassuring to be hit like a runaway freight train by the glitchy "I Can’t Grow Up". Blasting out of the speakers on a tide of visceral emotion it feels like a raw synthesis of their indie and pop inclinations, they’ve long been masters of the anthemic fist pumper and on this evidence that skill clearly remains intact.

In addition the duo have always had a knack for expressing the universal and "I Can’t Grow Up", with its howl of frustration at the difficulty inherent in moving on and yes, ‘growing up’ whatever that implies, can’t fail to strike a chord with any remotely self aware human being.

It’s also there in some of Tegan’s song titles in particular, "Pretty Shitty Time" and "Fucking Up What Matters" telegraphing their questioning, non-indulgent anguish before you hear a note.

Trading major label calculation for hard hitting immediacy, Crybaby is ironically more memorably catchy than some of their more obvious tilts at commerciality. Conversely that strength is also its slight flaw: the energy is so high on certain tracks that any slow to mid-tempo songs can naturally feel like lulls when actually they provide necessary variation.

No matter, Crybaby still adds up to a powerful reaction to the pain and strain inherent in coping with change and the challenge of growing up – art doesn’t get more universal than that.

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