My affair with Tegan & Sara began when I first got my hand on the largely acoustic-based So Jealous. When they switched it up on The Con, I could sense a move in a new direction, and while I liked the album, it didn’t seem like the girls had quite gotten to where they wanted to be. Now, with Sainthood, you can finally see the progression as its come to fruition. From the opening moments of the album, you can see that they’ve continued to progress, and the production throughout is spot on.
“Arrow” opens the album, and you can hear the poppiness pumping from your stereo, and the emphasis from the bits and pieces of electronic samples (or sounds) brings out the strengths in the song. You can feel the turning and whirling of the song as it grabs ahold of you, refusing to let you loose until you’ve absorbed all the pop goodness it has to offer.
And the first single, “Hell” is one of the hardest hitting songs the girls have ever put together. Initially (as in a few weeks ago) it seemed out of place on its own, but when placed in the whole of Sainthood, it’s one of the best songs the girls have written. The stutter step delivery of the lyrics propels the song forward, and the backing vocals fit perfectly into the greater spectrum of the song. It might be awhile before you get this song out of your head.
Suddenly, the pacing of the album seems to take a step. After rushing forward with their stories of love and loss (and possibly the role of playing the martyred lover) they seem to put on the brakes. “On Directing” through “The Cure” are classic Tegan & Sara, stripped to some of their basic elements, the girls continue to find a way to draw you into their storytelling and catchy melodies. Then they move into some new direction, a place we haven’t seen them.
“Night Watch” is a short number, backed up to one of the most straightforward pop-punk moments of their career with “Northshore.” There is a brooding quality here, and the music seems so sparse that you have no choice but to focus on the lyrical value here. The dual vocal delivery of the chorus is precisely what makes this song attractive, although it’s the fact that the girl’s explored some empty space that will fascinate many.
From this point on, the rest of the album runs from hit to hit until the end. Personally, “Sentimental Tune” reminds me of a great Albert Hammond Jr. (get well buddy) driving song. Jangling guitars and captivating hooks provide diversity that other albums have lacked. It proves that Sainthood is one of the most complete albums the Tegan & Sara have put together. Their maturity shows, and with lyrics that everyone can relate to, this is the record when everyone will truly fall in love with Tegan & Sara, if they haven’t already.
Download: Tegan & Sara – The Ocean [MP3]