What I’m Listening To: Tegan & Sara – The Con

Written By Simon Chisholm

I know I’m late to the party, but sometimes it takes time for music tastes to evolve, and to save enough money to purchase music; but the cost of music is a discussion for another time and place. An old friend showed me some of Tegan and Sara’s music years ago, and also personal hero Hunter Burgan (of AFI) is friends with and has recorded and performed with the girls. Now that I’ve had a chance to listen hard to this album, I wish I jumped at the chance years ago.

‘The Con’ is not your usual brand of pop music. While the hooks and choruses are catchy, and the harmonic progressions are the typical intervals, it has a disjointed quality. There are times when the melodies and the arrangements are more erratic than is traditional.

Lyrically, the songs are open to personal interpretation by the listener, and that’s beautiful. While the melodies are easy enough, in order to follow the lyrics correctly, further interrogation of the CD booklet is required. Not all together a bad thing, delving deeper into the words can be enlightening, highlighting lines you would never have picked otherwise, or altering the phrasing and flow of the ‘story’. The songs translate a lot of personal expression of emotions and feelings.

The main instrumentation are two harmonised voices of Tegan and Sara and their two steel string acoustic guitars. There is an intensity to the execution of the guitar parts; a combination of the performance and the timbre of the instruments themselves. As well as that, most of the songs also make use of full rock band accompaniment playing interesting polyrhythms a lot of the time. There are synthesisers throughout the tracks that add a cute quality to the accompaniment.

The vocals are executed with a sense of intensity and passion. While the main vocal seems desperate, the backing vocal seems as though it’s not bothered by the course events. It’s almost like a conversation is taking place between the two vocal tones. I love the harmonies in the vocals and their use of counter melodies. I also like the urgency in ‘Are You 10 Years Ago’ and that it is underlined by a second slower vocal line. At times the girls sing in falsetto, and when they do is sounds almost like a kettle whistling.

http://youtu.be/soJtF3F5t2k

The guitar tone is very percussive. Having been mic’ed in such a way that a lot of plectrum noise is captured. It is also a quality of steel stringed guitars. Some guitar motifs have an almost western quality

I really like this album. Pretty much every track made it on to my ‘notable tracks’ list and given the fact that there are 14 tracks that is saying something.

Released in 2007 by Sire Records . Produced by Christopher Walla, Tegan Quin and Sara Quin.

What I’m Listening To: Tegan & Sara – The Con

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