The Uberpop

REVIEW: Tegan and Sara, “Sainthood” (2009, Vapor/Sire)

Posted in Album Reviews by theuberpop on October 27, 2009

Tegan and Sara Quinn may have crafted one of the best pop records of 2009.  Their latest offering, Sainthood, I perceive to be more consistent than Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and less tedious than Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest (both of which are great records in their own right.)  The opener, “Arrow” and the mid-tempo shuffle “Night Watch” echo tones reminiscent of Tegan and Sara’s 2007’s critical darling The Con (particularly that album’s title track and the pulsating “Are You Ten Years Ago”), juxtaposing abrasive synth sounds with urgently strummed acoustic guitars, only this time around the twins have amped up the drama and the syncopation, thanks in no small part to the incredible band behind them, including Death Cab for Cutie drummer Jason McGerr (who also played on The Con), Producer/Multi-Instrumentalist Chris Walla (also of DCFC and producer of The Con), guitarist/keyboardist Ted Gowan and violinist Petra Haden.  Lyrically, the songs demonstrate a maturity that will likely be lost on the teenage Taylor Swift crowd but will undoubtedly resonate deeply with twenty-somethings without wallowing or whining (eg. “Night Watch”: “I’ve got grounds for divorce.  It’s in my blood this divorce.  I separate everybody.  I need distance from your body.”)  Sonically, all I can say is that Chris Walla once again reminds us that he is one of the best in the business in terms of getting sounds and tones that achieve a perfect union with the spirit of the songs themselves.  He and co-Producer Howard Redekopp (who produced Tegan and Sara’s 2004’s hook-filled So Jealous) craft a sonic backdrop that never feels forced or too busy, sometimes there’s a lot going on, but never to the point that it distracts from the songs themselves.  In many ways Sainthood feels very much like a marriage of the unrelenting pop frenzy that was So Jealous and the maturity and darkness of The Con, particularly on tracks like the rhythmically fragmented “Paperback Head” and lyrical mouthful that is “The Ocean”.  Also present are a few driving rockers with punk-ish undertones (eg. the first single “Hell” and “Northshore”).  Although, I will say that a few tracks on the album almost feel a little too Death Cab-ish, walking a fine line between imitation and homage (an obvious risk of having half of that band play on your record and the band’s guitarist/producer co-produce your record…but I suppose that probably rules out both imitation and homage), particularly the previously mentioned “Paperback Head” and “Sentimental Song”.  At a few points the songs sound vaguely run together, but I think that may be because the album never really slows down (there’s not a “slow jam” on the disc, which you don’t particularly miss) and a few of them seem to share key signatures…but that’s not a crime by any means.  However, these small criticisms are very easy too overlook thanks to incredible pop numbers like “Don’t Rush” and “Alligator”.  Overall Sainthood is a very solid indie-pop record, not a perfect record, but it is incredibly consistent in delivering well-crafted songs with little or no filler.

Verdict: Do yourself a favor and buy it, your ears will thank you.

Tegan and Sara Official Site


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: