Hey, I’m Just Like You is Tegan and Sara’s Ninth studio album. Released through Sire Records, the album is a rework of cassettes produced when the duo was aged between 15 and 17 years old. Notably, the work is produced entirely by women. A tight, synth pop exploration into the mind of the iconic duo’s beginnings, the 38-minute album is as consistent as the sound that has defined the band over the past two decades.
The sound and lyrics of this album are as overt and pointed as the title: mocking, punky, and moving. The tempo of the album varies song to song without losing a melancholic, upbeat air which defines the work’s entire sound. If the energy is repressed in one song it reaches a point in the next. “Don’t Believe the Things They Tell You (they lie)” in which guitars swell and an impassioned Sara attempts to protect its listener from a shared enemy, and “I Don’t Owe You Anything” in which an orchestral chorus of drum and synth dominates a serene landscape of overdubbed vocals, both stand out as the two peaks of the album. Bridging these two mountains is a delicate piano interlude (“Hello, I’m Right Here”).
What could be considered the downside of this album is the lack of variety in the instrumentation. However, the simplistic approach to each song is consistent, in that each track is pop-forward. So, anything deviating from the minimalistic framework could be off putting. Even a guitar solo might have been too much of a divergence but I doubt the listener would have minded (I know I wouldn’t have). This album is by no means experimental or pushing the boundaries of artistic musicality in any direction, but that is not the album’s aim. By deciding to explore tracks they made between the years of 15 and 17 the conception of the album is unique.
Considering the formidable years the tapes were created, the tracks, cryptic and simplistic simultaneously, are begging for an in-depth explanation by the two songwriters for their re-recording and mixing. Luckily, the album was given one in the band’s memoir High School released 3 days prior to the album (recommended to anyone interested in the duo’s beginnings before their launch into alt-rock fame). Love, trust, and rebellion are all recurring elements in Hey, I’m Just Like You and that could be the point. Returning to their youth, the duo has been able to capture a picture that many of us hope, or hope not, to reoccur again and again in life: those last few years before adulthood when everything that matters has not yet been put to the test by a world outside high school. The result is a collection of songs that are all very good and consistent in variety and breadth; a steady progression through the thoughts of two youths learning and voicing their opinions on grand themes that never leave us.