Tegan and Sara have a right to feel ripped off. When it comes to the twin superpowers, these Canadian sisters have totally lucked out. No ESP, no spoon-bending, just an innate musical bond and a penchant for funky side-mullets.
“We’ve never had any moments of telepathy,” Tegan confesses, sounding disappointed. “But I do think we are very in tune with one another. We definitely know what the other is feeling when certain things happen, but I don’t think we have special abilities or anything.”
Fans of Tegan and Sara’s sublime indie pop would disagree. And as their fifth studio album The Con displays in droves, the sisters’ affinity flows throughout their cleverly crafted tales of longing, loss and introspection.
The follow-up to 2004’s So Jealous (which was nominated for a Juno award – the Canadian version of an ARIA), The Con saw the girls appoint Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla as producer, who brought his spark to proceedings… literally.
“At one stage, the console caught on fire while we were mixing,” recounts Tegan. “It was pretty funny but also insane. He had the board open with a screw driver, got on the phone with technical support and was pulling out faders. It was madness.”
Following 18 months on the road touring Jealous, the sisters, now 27, took a year off to decompress, choosing to write separately and send demos to each other for appraisal. The break wasn’t all rest and relaxation though. Sara was struggling with Canadian immigration to get her American-born girlfriend a working visa so they could live together in Montreal. She penned ‘I Was Married’ for the new record not long after.
Tegan, on the other hand, was picking up the pieces after the end of a five year relationship that ended on tour. The album took its name from the resulting months of soul-searching. “I felt like I was living a bit of a con the entire year,” she explains. “Projecting two very distinct images – one of a very strong, independent, newly single person and the other of a dramatic, emotional needy co-dependent musician.”
While that heartbreak is achingly transparent in lines like “Maybe you would have been something I’d be good at / But now we’ll never know” (from album closer ‘Call It Off’), the lyrical therapy has obviously worked wonders for the creative process. Drawing on that emotional fall-out has made The Con the girls’ most captivating and complex album to date. And now best of all, it gives them another excuse to tour the world and escape the Canadian winter.
“I find the road really inspiring and fun,” says Tegan who admits she didn’t always feel that way during the early days. “I don’t like being home for long periods of time as it makes me antsy. Touring does quite exhausting but we travel quite comfortably now so I find myself complaining a lot less. Plus we have rules now about getting up early. Nothing before the sun rises!”
:: SMH review: Tegan and Sara – Sainthood