Noise 101: CD Reviews for Nov 5 Reflector
Tegan and Sara Sainthood Sire
It has been exactly one year and three months since Tegan and Sara released The Con, and in the time between then and the recent debut of their sixth studio album, Sainthood, this duo has managed to solidify their signature sound, but they have also grown as songwriters.
In their 29 years, Canadian twins Tegan and Sara Quin have left their hometown of Calgary, settled in opposite ends of the country, and have had their fair share of relationships.
A focus on love, devotion, and relationship dynamics has always characterized Tegan and Sara’s lyrical compositions, but Sainthood provides evidence of the emotional maturity these women have reached.
So while this originally acoustic-folk-rock duo have mostly tended to sing about love, their lyrical content has evolved from catchy tracks personifying innocence to ones intellectualizing relationships, adding credibility and eliminating the fluff of the typical love song.
Sainthood discusses the all-too-familiar unrequited love narrative — quite possibly one of the most relatable human experiences in existence. It does so, however, in a powerful way that shies away from typical emotional laments that have the ability to make you feel even worse about not having your crush like you back. The duo almost always manages to offer a breath of fresh air when it comes to this universal theme.
In recent interviews with the Quins, there has been a focus on Sainthood being the first album the duo has collaborated on in regards to their songwriting. Having taken a creative quest to New Orleans, the sisters co-wrote 51 songs, but “Paperback Head” is the only one to make the final cut.
The duo, however, has repeatedly noted in various interviews that this “experiment” has provided them with something to look forward to on future records, knowing now that collaboration can be a good thing.
With Tegan calling Vancouver her home and Sara residing in Montreal, the pair has predominantly composed songs for previous records with a heavy reliance on sending parts of tracks back and forth, adding backing vocals or guitar overlays to songs that are written individually.
Besides coming together in the studio at long last, Sainthood sees T&S record for the first time with a full band in the room. It also includes a special appearance by Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie fame, playing bass on all of the tracks, as well as returning to produce the album after manning the boards on The Con. Sainthood lacks those cute, ballad-like songs that can be found on older releases — a la “And Darling,” from 2002’s If It Was You, or the title track from 2004’s So Jealous. In exchange however, listeners are provided with energetic tracks, characterized by hooky choruses and skillfully woven harmonies.
They have evolved their sound to include delightfully attractive synthesizer melodies juxtaposed against heavier and more frantic-sounding guitar rhythms, culminating to create tunes that are danceable, and at the same time thematically relatable and relevant.
Songs like the album’s first single “Hell” catch one’s attention with the quirky and smart lyrics that accompany the duo’s signature upbeat sound.
In the just over two-minute-long “Northshore,” Tegan and Sara belt out short punches of emotionally laced lyrics like, “Don’t stay/Don’t plan/Don’t heal/Don’t mend/Don’t take/Don’t send/Don’t love me/Don’t love me/Don’t love me” over a frenzied melody.
“Sentimental Tune” explores that very exciting moment when you start winning over that person you’ve been pining for all of this time. With narratives like these, who can’t relate to this album?
It is during touring season that the sisters unite and in these live shows, one would never have noticed that they don’t spend the entire recording process together. Their live sound is flawlessly synced, their harmonies are intricate and perfectly executed, and their onstage banter and presence are entertaining and real.
Calgary is lucky to be seeing these hometown heroes return in January, for not one but two dates at the Jubilee Auditorium, as part of their Canadian tour. The city’s eagerness is clear with their first show on Jan. 8 selling out, causing the duo to schedule a second gig for the following evening.
So while we wait for our indie crushes to return, we have Sainthood to soothe our anxious souls, and on this latest record, Tegan and Sara Quin have again found themselves successful in what they do best: writing catchy, cute songs from a realistic and adult perspective.
More tracks on the racks
Snoop Dogg The Lost Sessions Vol. 1 Death Row Records
Fifteen years on, Snoop Dogg has remained one of the most singular voices in hip-hop. So a visit to his glory days at
Live at the Olympia Warner Bros.
Nervous, sloppy and unpolished aren’t usually used to describe a veteran band, but those adjectives are what make this live collection so charming. By the time R.E.M. came to Dublin to rehearse for their latest album, they were trying to find their rock roots and connect with their past, not to mention their fans. So these 39 songs mix new tracks with old favourites that the band admits to not having played in years, as well as a few well-known hits to keep the kids awake. Mistakes abound, stiffness is a little present, but through it all, R.E.M. become human again. —Sean-Paul Boynton
Creed Full Circle Wind-up Records
Dirty Projectors Assorted new tracks
Sometimes, a group comes along that is so batshit strange, you think to yourself, “This shouldn’t work as music.” Yet somehow, all the elements come together in an unexpectedly beautiful way, and you end up thanking Jesus for having two ears and a heart, and you simply feel lucky to be alive. Dirty Projectors does this, and they have a few new songs out. Just search their name and listen to the first three tracks, and prepare to be wowed.
VHS or Beta “Feel It When You Know”
Who would have thought super-disco-breakin’ electro-rock would be coming out of Louisville, Kentucky? Turns out not all of the dancefloor worshippers have been run out of the south, as this latest single turns one cryptic lyric and the shiniest synths this side of Studio 54 into five and a half minutes of pure bliss worthy of A Night at the Roxbury. And if you purchase the single on iTunes, you get a few mind-melting remixes.
Lil Wayne No Ceilings
Call Lil Wayne what you want — sell-out, genius, weed-addicted weirdo — but he’s still the most productive A-list rapper out there, even after hitting superstardom. His newest mixtape comes while he’s still promising his rock album Rebirth, and even hinting at a new chapter to his Tha Carter series. Simply put, the strain of his work schedule is starting to show, but most of these songs are still worthy of a listen. Best of all: it’s free.