Following the pop tart approach initiated on The Con, Tegan & Sara‘s latest (Sainthood) continues the tradition of New Wave gloss thanks to another go-round with Death Cab For Cutie‘s Chris Walla behind the studio glass.
What is surprising is how Sainthood tastes like there’s nearly twice the sugar as The Con. Despite the heavy-handed album title and visually stunning cover art, the two have completely severed all traces of their folkie past and are gunning for a more mainstream audience.
And what band does Tegan and Sara most resemble as they work their way into sweet realms of pop?
Missing Persons, circa Rhyme & Reason.
Tegan & Sara don’t sound like they’ve lifted a finger during the arrangement process, lending Sainthood to the hands of Chris Walla who uses the same “no Earth tones” mantra in his sonic pallet as Michael Mann used in Miami Vice.
Through gated drums, Greg Hawkes‘ synthesizers, and Postal Service envy, Walla turns Sainthood into his own KROQ airshift. Through magic, he manages to turn Sara and Tegan Quin into Dale and Terry Bozzio.
It’s a bit too much to take at first, watching the sisters dismantle their mystique and deliver an album of such simple proportions. There’s nothing hidden in Sainthood, it is a pop record as written by a pair of artists who we’ve come to expect more of than just a “pop record.”
As it goes, Sainthood has become a commuting favorite, particularly from my 2 1/2 year-old daughter who now thinks the world of “Teegy and Sara.” And with each repeated play I find myself closer to the sister’s pop narcotic.
“The Cure” is perfection, an energetic blast that could find reception on radio airwaves during the Reagan and Obama administration.
“My motor-mouth runs over you,” sings Sara on “Alligator,” but the pair have delivered a less cerebral offering in favor of an album of unabashed youthfulness.
“I know it turns you off when I get to talkin’ like a teen,” coos Sara on “On Directing” and on first listen, Sainthood was a complete turn off. It’s a grower for sure, and the sugar coma comes early on in the disc.
It will be a tough swallow for many long-time fans, but there’s no denying that Sainthood will undoubtedly please anyone with a sweet tooth and, ultimately, gain Tegan & Sara more fans in the process.
Video: Tegan and Sara – “Hell”