Monday, November 9

Tegan and Sara Get Sad, Happy, Canonized

Artist: Tegan and Sara
Album: Sainthood

Comments: I want to buy Tegan and Sara Quin a beer. They come off as such unhappy women, I bet they could use a drink.

It seems like every song they've ever written has been about being in love, falling out of love or the damage that falls somewhere between those two extremes. Even if one isn't listening for lyrics, the music itself (while coming quite a long way since their tampon-rock folk days) has an element of melancholy: an intangible quality of sadness that would dampen spirits even if the lyrics were about trampolines and puppy dog ice cream parties.

It should come as no surprise then to learn that the best tracks on Sainthood, the duo's latest album, are the ones that don't make you want to put a gun in your mouth.

Take, for example, the album closing “Someday”: a cheery guitar riff hums beneath a downright triumphant keyboard melody as the sisters Quin encourage the listener to “Move Up!” and “Reach Out!” before confidently reminding that they “Might write something that I want to say to you someday / mark my words I will be something someday.” This kind of well crafted feel good music is a long way removed from weepers like “Knife Going In.”

While the positive attitudes are welcome when present, mopers will fine plenty to get angsty about on Sainthood. Tracks like “Don't Rush” and “Hell” are the kind of dark fare that they duo perfected on their moody high water mark, 2007's The Con.

The overall mood of that record was palpable enough to let some lesser tracks slip by unnoticed, but the same cannot be said of Sainthood's duds, like the overly dramatic “Red Belt” and the Chris Walla-y “On Directing.” The album's better tracks, however, combine the sad-sackery with slick pop arrangements and solid song structure (see “The Cure,” the hurried "The Ocean" and the Sleater Kinney biting “Northshore”).

At its worst, Sainthood comes off like second-rate Death Cab For Cutie from a female's perspective. However, when it hits its stride, the record is a fine collection of mature, forward thinking indie pop that can be enjoyed by the heartbroken and the unmolested alike.

On the surface, Sainthood maintains Tegan and Sara's reign as the progressive poet laureates of relationship-related malaise. However, the real triumph of the record comes in the realization that if these gals can keep sharpening their pop senses and lyrical chops, they are going to put together a modern classic sometime soon.

Key Tracks: Someday, The Cure, The Ocean

Buy, Steal, Skip: Buy

No comments: