November 18th, 2009 9:29am

Tough Love Style

Tegan & Sara “Arrow”

A lot of people can’t handle criticism of any kind, and conflate it with conflict and cruelty. That doesn’t have to be the case. The singer in this song is requesting constructive criticism and “tough love,” and though it seems to be part of a desire to change for the better, what comes through in the language and in her voice is a hunger for intimacy and acceptance. She wants to know what the other person is thinking, she wants to get inside their head and figure out how to be what they want her to be. She doesn’t want to be torn apart, just brought closer to the person she loves. The music is on edge in the verses when she’s soliciting a critique, but when the song shifts to the chorus, it eases up as she acknowledges some kind of progress. It’s a tense song about high expectations, but there’s a sweetness and sincerity here that opens it up. It would feel so smothering any other way.

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