Tegan and Sara - Sainthood (Cover Artwork)

Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara: SainthoodSainthood (2009)
Warner Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: skaboomskaboom
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Progression is a tricky thing. Some bands are content to write the same songs and same albums over a span of decades. I'm sure one or two of those bands come to mind (hint: They also might creep out Sara). Others evolve in a singular direction, such that any element on their early albums is barely n.
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Progression is a tricky thing. Some bands are content to write the same songs and same albums over a span of decades. I'm sure one or two of those bands come to mind (hint: They also might creep out Sara). Others evolve in a singular direction, such that any element on their early albums is barely noticeable on their later releases. Brand New's ever-growing sense of foreboding and malaise exemplifies this trend. Somewhere between these poles is a space where artists can stretch their artistic muscles, explore new territory, but still retain the signature sound that earned them fans in the first place.

The Con was Tegan and Sara's best album to date. It was sonically dense and adventurous, and even when compared to a back catalog comprised mainly of melancholy and heartbreak, it was a very dark collection of songs. Those who saw Tegan and Sara on tour in support of The Con probably noticed how often the band had to switch instruments around in order to recreate the diverse sounds contained on that album. Even the songs themselves were arranged and rearranged differently on different tours.

Sainthood is a more straightforward record. Between the title and the cover (featuring Tegan with a stylized halo), it seems the twins are in a more lighthearted place, and the songs reflect that. While most of the songs continue to focus on interpersonal relationships, some new themes are brought to the table. The leadoff single "Hell" (the band denies any religious theme) is a socially conscious number describing Tegan's experience living in a dilapidated part of Vancouver. The bending guitar notes have been replaced with more driving, urgent chords, and the dense layers of keyboards have been replaced with staccato riffs that leave plenty of breathing room. Sara's songs in particular have a distinctly '80s vibe, and the combination of keyboards and liberal use of hi-hats begs to be remixed into a dance tune. In contrast, Tegan brings a bit of aggression to the table. "Northshore" is a bona fide punk rock song, and the loudest song they have ever released. While it's an entertaining change of pace, it unfortunately is a bit out of place and would have been better relegated to B-side status.

This songwriting is notable because, for the first time, the Quins attempted writing collaboratively. On past albums, they would write songs separately and then send them to each other for approval or minimal revisions. Approximately half the album would be "Tegan songs" and half would be "Sara songs." Keeping with the theme of "progression, but only a little bit," they only included one collaboratively written song, "Paperback Head." It sounds like an exact blend of their individual songwriting styles, with fuzzy guitars and synths wrapping around each other to excellent effect. Unfortunately, weak lyrics hamper it from being the standout it could have been. Hunter Burgan (of AFI), who played bass on Tegan's tracks on The Con, returns as a co-writer for three of Tegan's songs.

The best way I could summarize Sainthood is as "The Con lite." The subject matter is a bit more upbeat (just compare album closer "Someday" to "Call It Off") and the instrumentation is a little less cumbersome. Yet calling it "lite" implies that there is less substance, and this is not the case. Tegan and Sara have embraced the ethos of less being more, and have offered up a new collection of highly impactful songs that won't leave your ears exhausted at the end. Sainthood has minor flaws, but ultimately is a solid record that stands up to the high standard the band have set for themselves.


People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangAgainst Me! - White CrossesRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeAt The Drive-In - Relationship Of CommandThe Clash - London CallingAgainst Me! - As The Eternal Cowboy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
TSOL (February 22, 2010)

Wow that cover sucks [2]

makeshifty (December 10, 2009)

Between "Hell" and "Northshore", I'm suprised their are so many comments about liking the con better. Those are like the heaviest TnS songs ever. So Jealous is still teh best.

KanyeWestOFFICIAL (December 4, 2009)

My girls.

TheMike (November 9, 2009)

"fuck this hipster bullshit!"

Great insight.

ridebikesnothorses (November 9, 2009)

fuck this hipster bullshit!

fallingupwards84 (November 9, 2009)

Wow that cover sucks

R3vengeTherapy (November 8, 2009)

They said it would combine the best of So Jealous and The Con, but I wish they'd just written a record without trying to make something that "fits."

I like those two albums a lot more, but this is still a good listen.

Wesley_Snipes (November 8, 2009)

 This album by these Canadian indie rock twin lezbo bitches are AMAZING ! ! !

jacknife737 (November 8, 2009)

So much better than the Con, which i loved.

The Con had a block of fantastic songs, then a few forgettable ones and then a strong finish. This is just good all the way through.

thus_spoke_sean (November 7, 2009)

really need to get this. LOVED the con.

telegraphrocks (November 7, 2009)

Not as good as The Con or So Jealous, but better than their first few.

Solid 7.

PMAtill_imDOA (November 6, 2009)

" I was back stage at a festival in germany..."

i-type-poorly (November 6, 2009)

the album is good, but doesn't leave much of an impression on me. I wish the tracks would flow better and feel more like an album than a random collection of songs.

skolarx (November 6, 2009)

i was never a fan but i saw the video last week and liked it so i decided to give the album a try, totally blew me away in how much i liked it

skeetopunk01 (November 6, 2009)

Punknews.org? Tegan and Sara ≠ punk.... 75% of the music reviewed and talked about here is not punk.... what's the deal man?

diver (November 6, 2009)

Very, very good album. I loved The Con and wasn't sure that this would interest me very much, but it did.

alpod4 (November 6, 2009)

Cmon, this is terrible. and i'm a fan!

lifebystereo (November 6, 2009)

definitely some great songs on here. Favorites: Nortshore and The Ocean. Tegan and Sara aren't one of my favorite bands or anything, but they're definitely talented and this album is cool enough.

Man, shut the fuck up with the homophobic comments, people. Get a life.

skaboom (November 6, 2009)

Colin - It's hard to see in the small image. She's standing behind one of those cardboard cutouts that you put your face through, like you might see at a carnival. I'm pretty sure it's supposed to represent a halo, in keeping with the "Sainthood" theme.

Josiah (November 6, 2009)

not quite sure if i like it as much as "The Con" but maybe after a few more listens, because, it is damn good.

colin (November 6, 2009)

wtf is up with the one on the right's head on the cover. is she wearing a helmet or something, or did they just improperly photoshop her face on?

24hourpriapism (November 6, 2009)

is this the band that did that "i kissed a girl and liked it" song?

kidgotham (November 6, 2009)

I have been looking forward to this disc for a while. I have liked nearly everything I have heard by Teagan and Sara, and if it anywhere nearly as good as The Con, I will be very happy.

niveK82 (November 6, 2009)

I should have expected this review to be by skaboom.

oldpunkerforever (November 6, 2009)

The con was so much better, this?, eh.-oldpunker-

eazyd2 (November 6, 2009)

so gay

inagreendase (November 6, 2009)

So good. Met my expectations.

The '80s comparison is dead on and the first three tracks just kill it; "Hell" is the best song Alkaline Trio hasn't written post-Good Mourning (though some might say that ain't real much). "Northshore" is awesome and "The Ocean" is heartbreaking (and > Against Me!'s "Ocean").

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