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Quick Spin: Tegan and Sara's ‘Sainthood'

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tegan and Sara

SAINTHOOD

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Throughout their decade-plus career, identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin have moved inexorably, if not always logically, from plaintive folk-punk to slightly-less-plaintive electro-pop, with occasional detours into the sort of winsome sad girl strumming that can land a duo's music on "Grey's Anatomy."

"Sainthood," the most extreme example yet of the duo's newish, all-'80s-electro-all-the-time ethos, feels only loosely tethered to their past work. Co-produced by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, "Sainthood" is bumpy and brisk, a riot of new wave-y hooks and bouncy fuzz-rock that feels more accessible but less distinctive than anything the duo has previously done: "Alligator" sounds like vintage Madonna, whose presence looms large both here and on the Material Girl-referencing "Paperback Head"; "Arrow" evokes Gwen Stefani channeling Dale Bozzio; "The Cure" is a double-entendre'd love song for and, judging from its familiar underpinnings, by the Cure.

Frequently effervescent, occasionally just weird, "Sainthood" is a veritable hothouse of sad-sack love songs. The Quins are rightly renowned for their lyrical realism, their conversational approach to despair -- it's not for nothing that "Sainthood" takes its title from a lyric from Leonard Cohen, a fellow traveler in wry, Canadian-style miserablism.

-- Allison Stewart

Download these "Alligator," "Sentimental Tune"


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