I got into Tegan and Sara fairly late, knowing them only for their songs ‘Monday Monday Monday’ and ‘Walking With a Ghost’, but never really delving deeper than that. That changed when I first heard The Con late last year. Since I began listening to that album entirely too often, I have anxiously awaited their next record. On October 27, that follow-up will arrive. Sainthood takes its name from a Leonard Cohen song and marks their sixth full-length album. Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla and Jason McGerr return as producer and drummer, respectively.
Sainthood didn’t make much of an impression on me upon first listen, at least until the closing track. With the prominent synth melody and hopeful gazing to the future, ‘Someday’ is basically a perfect Mates of State song. It sticks out on an album that for the most part is still classic Tegan and Sara. Subsequent listens reveal an album just as enjoyable as its predecessors. Sainthood shares much with The Con, but with a slightly harder edge and more focus on the electronic rather than the acoustic. Thematically, Sainthood is said to be about “obsession with romantic ideals.” Many songs come across as pleas from jilted lovers and laments of unrequited love. Lead single ‘Hell’ has garnered some criticism for sounding “too mainstream,” which in other words means ridiculously catchy. The main chorus line of “I know you feel it too” is so simple yet so memorable. It’s refreshing to have a song so driving and direct to get me out of my mopey dream pop funk.
I’ve generally stopped trying to tell the twins apart, but after poring over writing credits it seems I historically favour Tegan’s songs, explaining why both ‘The Cure’ and ‘The Ocean’ resonate so well with me. Not to suggest that Sara’s songs are weak, as opening track ‘Arrow’ is worthy in its own right. In the lead-up to Sainthood, it was announced that it would mark the first time Tegan and Sara would collaborate in songwriting. Only ‘Paperback Head’ made it onto the album, with the rest of their output being relegated for future B-sides. The song’s fuzzed out guitar riff distinguishes it from the rest of the album, so I’m curious to hear more collaborative efforts from the duo.
While it likely won’t supplant The Con, Sainthood serves as an excellent companion. Both albums are short enough to enjoy consecutively, as well as repeatedly.