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Tegan and Sara Sainthood Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

The continuation of a formula that has served the twins well to date.

Andrzej Lukowski 2009

Tegan and Sara are a tricksy proposition, identical twin songwriters who write far from identical music. Their last several records have seen them bound together by a strange partnership in which talent for writing thrillingly weird pop songs wages constant war with a predisposition to sack it all off and churn out comforting AOR. Somewhat improbably, both sides have worked out in their favour.

Their third album, 2004's So Jealous, endeared them to middle-America teens in weepy droves. But it also proved something of a breakthrough with the indie crowd who'd hitherto ignored their previous albums, the uneven, experimental debut This Business of Art and its excellent, spiky follow up If It Was You. The cold, eerie staccato of the single Walking With a Ghost was a superb single, one that attracted the attention of Jack White, who swiftly whacked out a cover with The White Stripes, providing an instant jolt of cred.

All this has left the Quin sisters as something of a confusing prospect for those not part of their (very sizable) hardcore fanbase. Essentially what it boils down to is that while Tegan and Sara may be physically identical and share writing credits, it’s actually Sara who writes the 'weird' songs, while Tegan crafts the tearful montage music.

Sainthood has been widely noted as the first record on which the pair have actually written a song together. Sadly, the fact that anybody is making a big deal of the distinctly forgettable Paperback Head is testament to the fact that there really isn’t much new to say about the pair’s approach to Sainthood. Sara’s songs are woozy, inventive, heavily electronic affairs: cold, stark opener Arrow, the seasick, disembodied Night Watch! and the baroque disco of Alligator are all her tracks and all album highlights. Tegan, meanwhile, provides slick guitar fodder so saccharine as to rot away at even a tune as hummable as The Ocean.

It’s a formula that’s served them well, but to those not enamoured of the slushy stuff, Sainthood marks a third album in a row in which the truly talented Quin has found her wings clipped by her gooey sibling.

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