Written by Noelle Simeon
Tegan and Sara have been busy the last few years. Their 2019 memoir High School turned-TV-show premiered this month, a prequel graphic novel Junior High is due in 2023, postings in their popular Substack online newsletter “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and running the Tegan and Sara Foundation. In 2021, they went into the studio only thinking they were recording a few singles created from demos made during 2020. But once with producer John Congleton, a couple of songs became the start of Crybaby, Tegan and Sara’s 10th studio album.
Crybaby turned into their most symbiotic recorded album, with it being the first time the twins planned the songs to mesh with each other instead of 12 individuals. Tegan explains, “while we were still drafting our demos, we were thinking about how the songs were going to work together…[Sara] was also saying to me, ‘This song is going to be faster,’ or ‘It’s going to be in a different key'”.
There’s an overall sense of loss and self-reflection on Crybaby, themes many of us can relate to in the time since March of 2020. Songs “I Can’t Grow Up,” “Fucking Up What Matters,” and “Smoking Weed Alone” have the poppy vibe Tegan and Sara are known for in their 20-year career. But while you’re bopping your head, the words hit on a deeper level than just a regular Top-10 pop single. They are not bitterly casting out blame but pointing that finger inwards.
Even “All I Wanted,” “Faded Like A Feeling,” “This Ain’t Going Well,” and “Whatever That Was,” which could be considered the heartbreakers, have a sense of self-accountability. All three hit me hard in my feelings, perfectly describing longing and regret. In “Whatever That Was,” Tegan and Sara croon out lyrics, “Every time I find myself wishing you weren’t gone/ I just tell myself that I was wrong.”
“Yellow” is about the hurts that are below the surface and how sensitive some of us are underneath a hardened exterior.
“Pretty Shitty Time” reminds us that sometimes saying what you need is necessary, even if the timing is wrong.
A little light is in “Sometimes I See Stars” and “I’m Okay,” with the former’s underlying message of not wanting to become too cynical, even when the world can seem dark.
“Under My Control,” the 9th track on the album, is where the title Crybaby is heard. Instead of making it a criticism, Tegan and Sara want it to be a word of power. “There’s something powerful about ‘crybaby,’ because it’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna be a fucking disaster, and that’s great,'” says Tegan.
Crybaby is everything I wanted and didn’t know I needed. Tegan and Sara continue to be the great, quirky duo we know them to be, and we aren’t afraid to pull the curtain back on our hearts to see what’s inside.
Crybaby was released on Friday. Listen now!