Tegan and Sara

By - Aug 1st, 2007 02:52 pm

Like the “HeadOn: apply directly to the forehead” commercial, Tegan and Sara’s “Walking With a Ghost” (from 2004’s So Jealous) proved that repetition equals retention. The simplistic and cyclical single earned an EP dedication by The White Stripes; the Canuck twin songwriters took note. On The Con, “Walking With a Ghost”-equivalents “Back in Your Head” and “Hop A Plane,” which are filled with pop hooks like “every record between ’93 and ’97,” act as a safety net for exploration elsewhere.

While royalty checks must be added security, thankfully this is not another album ripe with lackluster Grey’s Anatomy ballads. More mope than mush, “Knife Going In” and “Relief Next to Me” are unprecedentedly dark, dwelling on the loss of their “grama” and the insanity and loneliness that came with it. Though apart while writing, the sum of their individual contributions is consistent in both lyric and mood – twin telepathy?

Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla and Jason McGerr, The Con’s co-producer and drummer, respectively, make their presences known – if not blaringly obvious – through delicate electronics and calculated percussion. “Floorplan” and “Burn Your Life Down” are giveaways.

“Nineteen,” “Call It Off” and the title track best meld the sisters’ aesthetic of earnestness and interwoven vocals with the collaborators’ marks, making those three songs particularly accomplished. When they aren’t adopting English accents on “Are you Ten Years Ago” or sounding like bingo callers on “Like O, Like H,” they put forth their most substantial material to date. If only it could speak louder than their damn undying scenester haircuts… VS

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