Saturday, 17 October 2009

Sainthood & the Rise of Sara

Everybody reading this should know that I am a HUGE Tegan and Sara fan. So much so that I own all six albums, their EPs, remix albums, demo albums, plus 19 additional bootleg recordings. I’ve seen them live 5 times in 4 different Australian states. Needless to say, you probably won’t find a bigger fan boy in the Tegan and Sara universe. It is hard to quantify my adulation for both Quin sisters. They are my creative heroes, intellectual peers, and cultural icons. Listening to a brand new album from them the very first time is quite the experience. It takes on orgasmic proportions.

Today was such a day. Although their album Sainthood gets released next week, it leaked on the internet in the early hours of this morning. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to hear the finished product. Back in 2007 when Sainthood’s predecessor The Con was released, I wrote that it was quite possibly the album of my lifetime. Congratulations Sainthood because now we have a new champion.

Those who don’t know me that well would say this is a hasty judgment. In fact one friend and fellow Tegan and Sara fan said today that this was a decision based on adrenaline. I know this not to be the case, because the previous call was made on the first day I heard that record, and its only now just been replaced. Stylistically, where The Con was angsty, Sainthood is thought provoking. Vocals are pushed further up in the mix and while early reports suggesting the album would be electronic, Sainthood has a more 80s New Romantic vibe, particularly on the Tegan penned Don't Rush. The Girls’ gift for songwriting is more noticeable and the album seems more cohesive than The Con, there's not as big stylistic gap between the two songwriters now.

Any hardcore Tegan and Sara fan will tell you that their contingent is divided into two evenly distributed camps. The ‘T Teamers’ prefer Tegan’s more emotional brand of songwriting that generally favours a more poppy sound. Meanwhile, the ‘S Sidekicks’ prefer Sara’s more literate songwriting that combines with more quirky instrumentation. Although they are my two favourite songwriters, I was most definitely a ‘T Teamer’… until now


It is Sara’s songs that really shine on this record, and in particular the potential second single On Directing. Complete with lyrics like ‘Go steady with me, I know it turns you off when I get talking like a teen, talking like a teen’ this song is the worthy successor to The Con’s first single Back In Your Head in terms of Sara’s ability to capture intricate lyrics with an innate sense of melody. Arrow and Alligator continue this trend to demonstrate that Sara is the finest songwriter of her generation.

However, Tegan is not far behind. Tracks such as The Ocean, Someday and lead single Hell show Tegan’s ability to craft a catchy and powerful hook remained unparalleled. Tegan also branches out on this record with the song Northshore evoking Deborah Harry and Joan Jett with a straightforward thrashing punk number. Unfortunately for Tegan, Sara once again steals the spotlight from her, in this case with her wondrous backing vocals.

Once again Co-Produced by Death Cab for Cutie’s Christopher Walla, he continues to elevate his status as a latter day George Martin or Brian Wilson. He has produced nine classic albums this decade for three different artists. His stature as the pre-eminent musician of the 21st century cannot be questioned, as both a part of Death Cab and a producer in his own right.

But it is to Tegan and Sara who the credit must go to for Sainthood. They have proven why they are the best band in the world. Not only do they write and play classic songs, they continue to improve exponentially making each new album a revelation. Their maturity is on full display throughout Sainthood indicating that there will more Sidekicks and Teamers with each passing year.

1 comment:

  1. Gah, alright, I give it a chance. I'll download it and see what I think.