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Album Review

Tegan & Sara, 'Sainthood'

October 26, 2009

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Pop
Tegan & Sara Sainthood
Sire/Vapor
ESSENTIAL “On Directing’’

This Canadian sister duo’s music has always been marked by introspection and darkness. But Tegan & Sara’s sixth album brightens things up markedly. This is a set of power pop with hooky choruses and chiming harmonies to go along with splashes of synths mixed in for throwback ’80s flavor (especially “Red Belt’’). It makes for a 40-minute blast of smart songcraft. “On Directing’’ has the rhythmic propulsion of early the Jam, and the bouncy “The Cure’’ (hmm, interesting title) features the line, “I know the world has not been fair to you/ I’ve got a cure for its crimes’’ (do share). “Northshore’’ is a shot of quick-tongued adrenaline. This is the first record the two have written together instead of individually, and it clearly makes a difference in the overall tonal quality. The delightful “Alligator’’ is radio fodder and might be a hit if it was attached to a one-named diva. Not all of this is gleeful, though. On the catchy, albeit rueful, “Someday,’’ Tegan sings, “I don’t want to know that you don’t want me/ I don’t want to know what you do without me.’’ It’s as true a lover’s lament as there is. Some older fans might think that the production by Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla should be grittier, but that would betray the tenor of the songs. (Out tomorrow)

KEN CAPOBIANCO