Monday, July 23, 2007

Tegan and Sara - The Con

Tegan and Sara
The Con (Sire, 2007)
Grade: A-

Download: Tegan and Sara - "The Con"
Download: Tegan and Sara - "Burn Your Life Down"

Tegan and Sara are getting better with every album. After scoring with 2004's So Jealous, twins Tegan and Sara Quin exceeded all of the expectations that So Jealous hyped. To make The Con, the pair brought in a slew of heavy hitters, most notably Matt Sharp (The Rentals), Jason McGeer (drummer from Death Cab for Cutie), Hunter Burgan (AFI), Kaki King, and Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie). The album was recorded in Portland at Walla's studio and the production is just superb. Walla really brings out some interesting aspects of Tegan and Sara's songwriting that haven't made it to record previously.

Because I am a nerd, I was sure to pick up the deluxe version of the album, which also contains a two-hour documentary on the making of the album, which is totally worth it -- not to mention that in one scene, Walla is wearing a So Many Dynamos t-shirt, no joke. Furthermore, it is super fun to see how charming the whole crew is as well as how many ridiculous synths they used to lay this heaviness down.

Much of the album is spent experimenting in several two-minute spurts that, although are completely pop sensible, reveal a new side of experimentation and exploration ("I Was Married," "Relief Next To Me" and "Soil, Soil" for examples) that will really pay off down the road as these two grow as songwriters.

"The Con," "Back In Your Head," "Nineteen," and "Burn Your Life Down" could all be hits; four off the bat, not too shabby. "Burn Your Life Down" is my favorite track off of the album simply because of its irresistible outro and drive. Although I tend to lean towards Sara's songs as my favorites overall, Tegan levels the playing field on The Con with some earnest solid rockers. Note, this is obviously not a competition, this just provides for an overall cohesiveness on the album that didn't quit manifest itself in their past efforts.

The only weakness on the album rears itself in "Are You Ten Years Ago" when the band falls into a The Blow-esque trance that somehow brings out British accents in the two of them. The song pushes towards building a mood, but it lands somewhere that doesn't make a whole lot of sense in relation to the rest of the album. Granted, this only bumps the record from an "A" to an "A-" so it's not the worst mistake in the world.

"The Con" on the other hand, is the hot track that will carry the record to radio. Packed with heavy synth work and pop hook after catchy pop hook, it reflects on the rest of the album, which is pure pop gold.

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(Ian Anderson)

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