Effectively transitioning themselves from Lilith Fair card players to intriguing pop songstresses is impressive on paper, but it’s even more stunning on some moments of Tegan and Sara’s latest release The Con.
Keep in mind that pop music often homes a few bad eggs and yes, there are enough here to make a decent sized omelet. But when you consider how cleverly the Quin sisters deliver the album’s finer examples, you tend to forget all about those rotten eggs.
There’s a new wave feel to the twins’ delivery and a subtle difference between their overall vocal sounds; you can identify who composed and performed what. The arrangements occasionally reveal their original acoustic origins, but producer Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) manages to bring the record closer to Kate Bush’s The Dreaming than they could have ever imagined. And I love The Dreaming, which means I’m feeling smitten about Tegan and Sara’s latest effort.
Speaking of the early 80s, holy shit, I kept feeling fascination over The Con‘s skinny tie snare ‘n high-hat propulsion and Human League keys. When Walla and the sisters lose sight of how charming their voices sound in this retro backdrop they start swinging at anything. “Are You Ten Years” ago, the album’s lowpoint, whips out a woefully unimaginative electronic drum pattern to propel a woefully unimaginative vocal rap.
Judging from The Con‘s lyrical content, the main source of inspiration for Tegan and Sara’s latest selections is (again) those moments when love’s adverse effects are just as deep as the euphoria love initially creates. From its precautionary first hints (“You take your time coming over here / I think that’s for the best”) to its inevitable break-up (“I’m not unfaithful / But I’ll stray / When I get a little scared”), the con is that they buy into love’s sales pitch every time and, every time, they get their heart broken.
Which means that the only thing that separates The Con between its predecessors is the new paint job Walla conjures up in the studio. However, no worries: there’s enough honesty and originality within the sheen of his pop clear-coat to give Tegan and Sara a new benchmark and, potentially, a larger audience.
YouTube: Tegan And Sara – “Back In Your Head”