Tegan & Sara
The Con (Vapor/Sire)
The musical output of Canadian twins inevitably carries with it a vaguely alien air. One can just imagine Tegan & Sara in Montreal and Vancouver, respectively, engaging in some seizure-like sibling communication and spontaneously birthing The Con.
Nothing so medievally weird happened, of course, although it would make a good episode of Behind the Music. The sisters wrote their new material apart from one another, then fine-tuned everything into nuanced pop capsules. A 14-song affair where no track lasts much longer than three minutes, The Con is terse and colorful. "Relief Next to Me" starts out with playful pop hijinks before reeling into some Stevie Nicks-style drama awash in emotionally confrontational lyrics. Immediately afterward, "The Con" launches into more instrumentally dense pop, where any remnant of precious vocals is abandoned for raw delivery. "Back in Your Head" has some of the catchiness that defined "Walking With a Ghost" off So Jealous, while "Hop a Plane" channels bittersweet '90s power pop. "Dark Come Soon" stands out as one of the more polished and beautiful songs on the album, and the lyrics dissect conflicting feelings about love and isolation.
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Even as Tegan & Sara become more restrained stylistically, they remain open as a band, maintaining an air of exploration throughout the new record. For this alone, they're forgiven the occasional lapse into questionable, Madonna-like British accents on The Con. -- Evan James