Tegan and Sara: Sainthood, The Music Magazine

Tegan and Sara

Review originally appeared in The Music Magazine

Sisters Tegan and Sara Quin never wrote a song together. In their 11-plus years as Tegan and Sara, the process for the Canadian duo has always been the same: write separately and hash things out at a later date. So when they tried to write together recently for their fifth album Sainthood, the collective experiment produced many songs, but only one, “Paperback Head,” made the 13 track cut. Nevertheless, there were some collaborations and lyrics eventually flowed. The Quins still managed to dig deeper and write about what they know best: loves, obsessions and obsessions with love.

To contrast Sainthood to The Business Of Art (2000) is pointless since the sisters Quin have moved way beyond the Alanis Morissette angst of their debut. Even before Death Cab For Cutie’s guitarist Christopher Walla produced The Con (2007), the musical transition from folk to more indie and pop was evident in sophomore release If It Was You (2002) with “You Went Away” and “Terrible Storm Or Living Room,” a tune the brothers (and cousin) Followill would have likely penned in the Youth And Young Manhood years.

Sainthood is still a jumble of love, obsessions, but perhaps deeper love and lust as opposed to all those crushes before. Fuzzy guitars open into “Arrow” with vocals mimicking a harmonious Cyndi Lauper bleat going on and on about playing cupid: “I take my aim, so you feel me coming close.” They’re no saints. These girls mean business.

Perhaps an homage to Robert Smith and co – particularly with a song title like the “Cure” – wispy guitars open and love is still tumultuous (“screaming like no one might call the cops and arrest you this time”). It’s also one of three songs (also “Hell” and “Don’t Rush”) AFI bassist Hunter Burgan, who also played bass on The Con, co-wrote with the sisters.

Johnny Ramone “Commando” guitar riffs bring on the punk of “Northshore,” but Sainthood proves Tegan and Sara do pop and do it well with “Night Wish” and “Paperback Head.” Indie gem, “The Ocean” is where Tegan and Sara harmonize most perfectly on love lost. One would think they wrote this together.

Whether or not the sisters Quin write together, write better with others or alone, fall in love the same way or not, it seems the two lyricists already know what the other is thinking and feeling without singing or writing a word. Luckily, on Sainthood, they do both.


~ by Tina Benitez-Eves on November 26, 2009.

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