Tegan and Sara If It Was You

Calgary's way spunkier version of the Bobbsey twins are back with their second full-length release of poppy folk punk, and it lives up to all the potential that shined through in 2000's The Business of Art. In fact, it surpasses expectations with surprising maturity. Produced by John Collins and Dave Carswell, of the New Pornographers, If It Was You seems influenced by the latter Vancouver super-group's supreme pop sensibility and versatility. Tegan and Sara's emotive songs of heartache, longing, puppy love and youthful ambition are always expressed with witty wordplay and weathered pipes - whether by frenetic pop punk or mellower folk. Yet they shake off the Ani DiFranco parallels with their unique sense of humour, and although the brash sass and punky energy still abounds, this time it's more focused. There's also a crisp professionalism here that belies the duo's 20 years; the infectious hooks seem to flow out of their tunes effortlessly, never forced or jarring but always naturally rough around the edges. And, of course, there's the harmonising. Tegan and Sara bounce vocals off each other like a rubber ball and a brick wall, seeming to always feed off the other's energy yet still maintaining their individual distinctiveness. I guess it's a twin thing. (Universal)