For the last half-decade, Tegan and Sara have been stuck in the past. In 2017, the Quin twins embarked on a 10th-anniversary tour of their alt-pop classic The Con and followed it up by writing a memoir of their adolescent years, High School, which in turn spawned an album of rerecorded teenage-era demos (2019’s Hey, I’m Just Like You) and a spinoff TV series based on the book. On paper, the first track on the sisters’ 10th album, “I Can’t Grow Up,” appears to be born from a similar retro-gazing impulse. But within its opening seconds, a flurry of chopped-up vocals, pitch-shifted hooks, and heart-racing digital beats betray a different intent: this is the sound of Tegan and Sara slingshotting themselves into the future. The sisters didn’t intentionally set out to reinvent themselves as hyperpop prophets—it’s just what happens when pandemic lockdowns give you too much time to tinker with beatmaking apps on your iPhone. “I wanted to make something really energetic because we were trapped in slow motion,” Sara tells Apple Music. “With the pandemic, the tires screeched, and we were stuck for years. So, I definitely didn’t want to make a slow, sad record. I was like, ‘Let’s make something crazy!’” But as much as Crybaby is a high-energy rebuke to pandemic malaise, it’s also a vessel for the existential crises and big life changes that arose while they were sheltering in place, chronicling Tegan’s travails as a new dog owner, Sara’s difficult path to becoming a mother, and the sisters’ shared anxieties over the fate of their musical partnership. “It’s a record full of questions,” Tegan says. “Like, ‘What is our future? What do we do next? What is the purpose of all of this? What’s the point of our band?’ This era of Tegan and Sara that we’ve been in is over—the pop era is over, our thirties are over. So, what are we going to do? Well, I think we’re just gonna have to go forward.” Here, Tegan and Sara offer a guide to leaving the past behind as they talk through some of Crybaby’s tracks. “I Can’t Grow Up” Sara: “Through much of the pandemic, and really a couple of years leading up to the pandemic, I’ve been on my own personal journey with my partner around IVF and starting a family. A lot of these songs started because it seemed I was going to be forced into a new stage of adulthood. And I’ve sometimes embarrassingly struggled with that—even just small details, like, I’m 42 and I don’t have a driver’s license! I had to go back and figure out all of these kinds of details of my life that made me feel like a child. Here I am thinking, ‘Oh, I’m very accomplished! I’ve written books and traveled the world and put out albums—but why do I feel so immature?’ This song was really the big spark for this album.” “All I Wanted” Sara: “This is very specifically about the journey towards parenthood and the disappointment that comes when we weren’t successful [at conceiving]. We worked for years to try to have a child. There were lots of highs and lows, and there were moments where, when we wouldn’t be successful, I grappled with the feeling of relief and the guilt that sometimes came with that—like, ‘Is this actually what I want? Did we fail because I actually don’t want to have a kid?’ Maybe there was some part of me that was rebelling against the idea that parenthood is this ascension into some other higher level. There’s actually a lot of freedom in not having to enter into that sort of structure and that standard approach to life.” “Fucking Up What Matters” Tegan: “I had gotten a dog at the beginning of COVID, and it had been something I had prepared a lot for but still wasn’t prepared for in the end because it was a loss of autonomy and independence. For 39 years of my life, I was responsible just for myself, but all of a sudden, I was responsible for this intense border collie/German shepherd. All of a sudden, we had this dog, and every four seconds my partner was like, ‘Did you take the dog out? Did she poop yet? How many poops did she have? What did the poop look like?’ And I just had this slow unraveling, where I was like, ‘Is this the life that we live? We don’t tour anymore. It feels like we don’t make records anymore. Am I just going to be here, using up all the resources, slowly driving me and my partner insane?’ And then you just start to daydream: ‘What happens if I dismantle this relationship? Sure, it’s really good and I’m happy, and I finally have all this time with you…but what if I just destroyed that?’ I saw a lot of people around me asking that question about themselves, too, and Sara and I were asking it about ourselves. We left our record label because we didn’t want to be on a major anymore. We weren’t sure about if we wanted to make pop music anymore. We left our managers of 18 years. We were dismantling our own life. And sometimes that can feel really good, like wiggling a tooth that’s loose. It hurts, but it also makes you feel alive.” “Yellow” Sara: “Tegan and I have very publicly talked about how, over the past year, we’ve been doing some therapy together again as we rebuilt our business infrastructure, reconnected, and solidified our sister-slash-collaborative bond. We were getting ourselves prepared to go back into the world and start doing this again. So, this is one of the only songs that really focuses on that relationship between myself and Tegan, and how much we’ve been through.” “I’m Okay” Sara: “The real signature fingerprint for the album is this sample program that’s an app on my phone called Keezy. I made vocal samples and melodies and glitchy things on my phone because all of my legitimate musical equipment was in storage, and it was the pandemic, and I was too lazy to go get any of it. I ended up making a ton of music just using this crazy little weird app. And I think that’s probably why the hyperpop thing comes into play with the crazy drums and these glitchy sounds. But really, it was just because I had my iPhone, and I was like, ‘I can make music with anything!’” “Pretty Shitty Time” Tegan: “I remember when the pandemic started, there were so many people saying, ‘Oh no, now we’re gonna get pandemic albums!’ But then, there was a slew of albums that came out that were so upbeat, like Charli XCX or Dua Lipa. But I was like, ‘Wait, why can’t we talk about the biggest event of our generation?’ Isn’t that our job as artists? So, this is literally my pandemic song—it was a pretty shitty time. And yet I was writing that in my cabin on a remote island off the coast of Vancouver with my partner and my dog, looking at the ocean and feeling pretty frickin’ happy too. So, there might’ve been a little residual guilt in the lyrics. Here’s this incredibly powerful and monumental thing that’s occurring all over the world and affecting billions of people, but like most people, I’m only thinking about my own depression and my own anxiety and my own loneliness. And I think it’s hilarious those lyrics are juxtaposed with a completely upbeat banger. It’s such a party song.” “Under My Control” Sara: “This is a song about me and my partner—a conversation about relationships, fertility, life. We weren’t on the precipice of breaking up or anything. We’ve been together almost 12 years, but when you start to talk about something substantial like having children, it sets off tremors in every other area of your shared existence. We moved back to Canada [from LA], and we had to deal with immigration, and we bought a home together in Vancouver, and it was a brand-new city for us, and we had to reestablish our community and our social network. And in the midst of that, we’re dealing with hormones and fertility treatments. We were having a lot of really challenging conversations.”

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