Walking With a Ghost
Soon after college I ended up with a desk job for a large accounting firm. It was a low-level department filled with tons of recent college graduates like myself, making for the most fun and fucked up work environment I will most likely ever be a part of. Endless hours of goofing off in the mail room ensued, and in that mail room we would blare our favorite tunes; anything from Wu-Tang to Garth Brooks on the domestic front and 3 Canal to Ninet Tayeb from the international scene. When management realized shit was getting out of hand, we were dispersed about the office like disciplined first graders in order to settle things down, but that didn’t stop us from using the inter-office instant messaging system to send mp3 files back and forth to one another. It was at this time that one of my closest musical counterparts introduced me to the first Tegan and Sara track I would ever hear. “My Number” has a new wavish, folksy sound hearkening to those singles from the 90’s femme movement (Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, etc). If I make out the lyrics correctly it sounds like Tegan is recounting her issues with identity and sexuality, which makes the song even more interesting knowing what we now know of her.
When I told my friend I had played the shit out of that track, she sent me "Walking With a Ghost" next. In this song, it was obvious the duo had evolved, borrowing heavily from those punk and garage records they must've been collecting over the past few years. Instead of leaning entirely on acoustics and string accompaniments they were blaring electric guitars with distortion while pushing the pitch of their voices to newly grating levels. They began to harness their originality though, and “Walking With a Ghost” became the blueprint for a lot of the group’s later work. Not long afterwards the White Stripes would cover it for an EP. Tegan and Sara are often branded as The Jonas Brothers for the indie teen, and the nod by such a respected rock'n'roll group gave the duo some much needed musical credibility. And as I listen to both tracks back to back a few times over, Jack White’s version can’t touch the original.