Eyes Focused Like a Microscope
So, I would just like to take the time to express my borderline insane obsession with Tegan and Sara. Oh mah little badgers, where to begin? Where to begin? Oh, well I guess we can begin where I began–which was back in 2007 when The Con came out. Back then I was a big ole’ T&S hater. I wasn’t hatin’ on ’em for any pretentious reason. I wasn’t anti-teegles and saresare’s for any “i’m too cool for such cool things” type of annoyingness. Nah, man. That’s not me. I’m usually so far behind on things that if new music ever reaches my widdle eager paws I just feel blessed.
But, I really just hated Tegan and Sara’s voices. I did. I thought the whole vibe of their album and the sound of their complete discography was just too electronic–too synthetically poppy and grating on mah fragile nerves. It was a stark contrast to the smooth bluesy-folksy voice of Brandi Carlile–that’s for damn sure. And their indie eclectic style coupled with their seriously awful fan base of teeny boppers galore… just didn’t add much to their case.
What can I say? Had they stampeded into my life about, uh, ten years ago I would have been all over that shit. It would have been right up my alley. I was a freshman in high school. I was a total geektastic Hot Topic shoppin’ free spirited little punk rawker. It was my only goal in life at that time to marry Tom Delonge, dye my hair blue, and get a lip ring on the left side of my mouth. Yup. Teegles and Sares coulda been my best buddy back then. But, I had moved on. I thought I had matured and grown more refined and sophisticated in my musical tastes. I was virtually into nothing but the raw acousticy folk sound. And this head-bopping rave-esque, techno-esque, club-esque jibbeh-jabbah just bounced off my ears and onto the floor. No Me Gusta!
But, hell, what can I say? Something kept bringing me to pull their album “The Con” out and pop into the CD player–I guess every now and then the OCD of my listening to BRANDIfreakingCARLILE all the time would dissipate momentarily and I would feel self-conscious enough to diversify and listen to something insane like Teegs and Sares. And slowly, but surely, it grew on me. First it was the lyrics. Second it was the clear talent and knowledge they possess in terms of musical ability. Third it was their energy and finally their vocal work. You have to admit–their harmonizing skillz are kind of awesome. I’ve spent many rides in the car trying to perfect them, but I’m not part-robot, so it’s been difficult to accomplish.
At any rate, I have become a legitimate fan. In fact, I would say they are my favorite band. Their albums never cease to cheer me up despite the oftentimes dark and depressing lyrics–they are presented in an infectious and fun way. Plus, they love injecting sexual innuendos and metaphors into their songs and I think that’s just great.
They have a new album out called “Sainthood.” And boy if it’s not a divisive one. I understand why. I do. When I first listened to it, I just stared there at the computer screen, a look of consternation and confusion on my face… I think I felt a wave of disappointment flow through my veins. I didn’t connect with one damn song. I was waiting for “Walking with a Ghost” or “The Con” or “Call it Off” to capture my initial intrigue–that one “hit” to pull me deeper into the midst of what they were trying to accomplish.
But, I think I was just SO excited, SO eager to listen, SO impatient–and expecting SO much from them that I had no chance at being immediately fulfilled. However, I kept on turning it on, playing it over and over again inside my mind, digesting everything it had to offer–noting the merits, observing the downfalls, and just giving it the chance it deserved.
Now I fucking LOVE it. ADORE it. WORSHIP it. Can’t get it out of my head, can’t get it out of my lungs, can’t get it out of my cd player. I just think it’s the bees knees–or “swift” as my mom would say. In fact, ahem, I’m going to go ahead and say it’s my favorite of all of their albums. As a whole, I think that it is incredibly complete and cohesive…with only one song that I just…hate.
Let’s analyze shall we?
1) Arrow: A great opener to the rest of the tracks. It’s immediately in your face, pumping out those traditional edgy beats and guitar licks. You get the immediate sense that this is the Tegan and Sara we’ve come to love–taking full advantage of the arsenal of technological weapons available to them. They don’t shy away from all the bells and whistles a studio has to offer. And I dig that about them. This is a good song. I’m more a fan of the verses than the chorus, which is unusual for a Sara song. All in all, not a bad way to start the CD. (Written by Sara)
2. Don’t Rush: Depending on my mood I occasionally find the chorus annoying. But, more often than not I really am into this song. It’s really fun when you can crank the volume all the way up and dance around to it. Even better when you have someone sexy to dance with. Just saying. (Written by Tegan)
3. Hell: The first single from the new album. I have to say–this song stands out like a sore thumb. It’s SO pop-punk and takes me write back to the early 2000’s when girl rock bands were popping up like weeds after a spring storm. But, Tegan is a little indie rock rebel at heart and you can hear influences from punk bands infiltrating many of her songs this go-around. Despite my initial disgust at how mainstream this sounded–and after getting over my disappointment in Miss Teagles–I now appreciate it much much more. It’s a fun song. It’s got a catchy beat, chorus and very interesting lyrical content. I love songs with multiple meanings–to quote the penner herself:
“I wrote the single, Hell, about my neighborhood in Vancouver. The song is actually about more than that though. When I moved into my new neighborhood in December of 2006, the Vancouver Sun had an aerial photo of my neighborhood with the headline “Vancouver’s four blocks of hell” on the front cover. Welcome home, I thought.
The song was also a clever metaphor for my unrequited feelings, for a girl, not drugs.”
Smart girl, that one.
4. On Directing: Oh.Em.Gee. This is the song that truly stole my heart. It came along at the right place, right time, right exact moment for me to really connect with it.
“Go steady with me. I know it turns you off when I, I get talkin’ like a teen. You’re directing me. You’re dressed up I lose my grip my focus. Make those eyes at me. I lose my grip I lose my focus.”
This is the one song that instantly pasted itself among the inside of my skin. I couldn’t peel it off. I couldn’t shake it off of me. It just kept repeating. And with each listen I found myself relating more and more. It’s an amazing song. It really is. There is nothing I would change about this one. Sara hit a homerun here. Sure, it has her trademark repetition, but it’s not nagging or a cop-out here–it works. And this is the best track on the album, hands down.
5. Red Belt: Whew. I feel like I need a cold shower after this widdle ditty. It’s blatantly about sex. She’s not hiding behind any metaphors here. Sugar Spell It Out. And that she does. This whole album is about relationships–and this one is a clear nod to a past-lovah. An ex who she obviously misses.
“I kneel to condition all the feelings that I feel
Slow it down you have a tendency to rush back into your past
Slow it down you transfer all your weight and disappear
I’ve got a red belt around my mind
My hands tied up around these words
I wish you’d call but I know that you’re out tonight
My ears fill with the sound of your kneeling
My ears fill with the sound of dissent
My ears fill with the sound of your arching“
The song itself is pretty good. It’s not a knock-out. It’s not near the level of awesomeness as most of the other tracks, but I can see it being a fan favorite. I mean, it’s sexy as hell. Sara is sexy as hell. She’s an intelligent womanizing bad girl with a feminine flare to her–a deep knowledge of literature, music and other worldly cultural interests. She’s fascinating and so are her lyrics.
6.The Cure: Ah! My second favorite track on the record. This is Tegan at her best here. It stands out, much like “Hell,” but for a completely different reason. I admire this one because it’s style is pretty far off the beaten track for T&S. It has a, well, a Cure like feel to it. I doubt it’s accidental. I can see Tegan being heavily influenced by Robert Smith. I mean, hell, who isn’t? That voice. Heh. Anyways, Tegan stretches herself vocally here and I likes it. I likes it a lot. She drops the whiney robotic stepford wife voice and drops a couple of octaves and it works out for her. It’s super sexy and I wish she always sung that way. I have to say the backup vocals are like nails on a chalkboard for me during the verses, but whatever. Small complaint. I love this tune. It’s one of the best.
7. Northshore: This is an interesting song. It’s SO punkish! It’s so old school Descendents of her. Such a fun vibe to it. It’s probably the most legitimate rawk song they’ve done, ever. And it’s going to be so much fucking fun to hear it performed live.
Don’t tell me”
Don’t want me”
It’s going to be sexy to watch Tegan scream that stuff out. I know a lot of people are disappointed in this effort both musically and lyrically–and feel it to be one of Tegan’s worst songs, like, ever. But, they just aren’t used to this kind of rhythm or tempo. It IS different. But, it’s still good. It’s nice to hear them branch out.
8. Nightwatch: Love the way this song sounds. I think it’s got a really interesting musical quality to it. It’s unique. I can’t think of any similar sounding tune out there. I love that about them. They craft these original pieces from scratch and make them so individualized to where no two sound alike. I love their play on words. I love their depth. I love their ability to mask true meanings of things just using allusions and metaphors. It’s amazing. (Sara song)
9. Alligator: First of all I just love the title of this song. For some reason it just makes me smile. I love me some alligators! Much better than Crocadiles. It’s not even a contest really. Anyways, this song is so poptastic that it makes me break out in a case of the giggles every time it comes on. I read a review somewhere that said it sounds like a Madonna song and it’s so true! Any pop goddess should be belting out this uber-bubble gummy song. It’s good. And I like it. It’s clever like all their songs. But, it’s definitely a contrast to tunes like “Northshore” and “The Ocean.”
10. Paperback Head: UGH! Ok. Apparently they co-wrote this number. And it’s awful. It’s really really bad. I can find nothing to recommend about this song other than the super cool title. Next.
11. The Ocean: Now here’s a song that I can get behind! Hellz ya! First of all, I automatically like the track because of the name. I’m a sucker for anything involving imagery of the ocean–colors, sounds, smells, etc. So, natch the word “ocean” evokes much of these memories. And I likes it. And then when the lyrics and the accompanying arrangements almost match the hyped up title, then, well, that makes me triply happy! Yay! Tegan! It’s another song that I can relate to quite a bit–in my past and present relationship. Some tragic lyrics that really cut deep. The best kind.
“When you wake, what is it that you think of most?
When your bed is empty, do you really sleep alone?
If I imagine you, body next to another
All around me new love and it makes me sad
All around me feeling sure that you’ll be bad
If I imagine you, body next to another
Stop crying to the ocean
Stop crying over me
Stop worrying over nothing
Stop worrying over me
So it’s been so long since you said,
“Well I know what I want, what I want is right here with you.”
12. Sentimental Tune: Another successful Sara song with sexual undertones. Mmmhmmm. Oh Saresie. I’m thoroughly impressed with her outing this go around. I’m never really into her stuff more than on a level of appreciation. I see that she’s talented . I recognize it. I do. But, they are typically the ones I skip over and not skip to. This album upsets that balance in the force! I’m slipping to the dark side. I kinda like it. But with word play like this:
“Hard hearted don’t worry I’m ready for a fight
Unnerve the nerve, you’re nervous, nervous that I’m right“
And sexy sexiness like this:
Watch with a bit of friction
I’ll be under your clothes
With a bit of focus
I’ll be under your skin
I can hardly stand it! This song is awesome. And super catchy. And super amazing. I’m lovin’ it. Of course I would love the track titled “Sentimental Tune.” Of course I would. I’m such an emo romanticy type of lady.
13. Someday: And finally we come to the end… the final track, a Tegan tune, and one that I like for personal reasons. It’s not my favorite musically nor lyrically, really. But, some of the words really do resonate with me.
So speak up
This is your last chance my friend,
Roll the windows down and take me in,
Say what you’re really about,
Are you coming here or not?
Are you coming out?
Might think something
Might write something I might want to say to you someday,
Might do something I’ll be proud of someday
Mark my words I might be something someday
I don’t want to know that you don’t want me,
I don’t want to know what you do without me,
I don’t want to know what I’ll be without you
Can you see how I can identify with that? Especially as someone who A) wanted someone so badly B) feels that she is full of untapped potential and C) is so afraid of losing the girl she finally caught the attention of… It’s right up my alley. I am still on the fence when it comes to what I actually think about this song. It was one of my favorites initially, but I’m slowly pulling away from it and latching on to other tunes.
All in all. Good CD. Solid solid quality. I like the direction they are heading. I love the instrumental work. I love the production–it doesn’t sound overly produced like I thought “The Con” did. And they should be proud of themselves, because they are growing as artists. This is a wonderful showing for these 28 year old whiz twins. Good work my friends.