Identical Licks

In the eight or so years since Tegan and Sara signed to fellow Canadian Neil Young's Vapor Records and began touring the world in earnest, more and more fans have been flocking to their unorthodox, much-talked-about shows. The tattooed, mulleted sisters are hilarious on stage, where they include sibling-rivalry jabs, using superb comic timing in between songs. They'll share twisted anecdotes about, say, diarrhea, terrifying amusement park rides, or that time they beat up their grandmother with a plastic bat when they were little.

The sound of the spry indie pop on their latest album, The Con — with solar synths, folky acoustic guitars, and sweetly skewed vocal harmonies at the fore — typically matches the spirit of their banter. Sometimes, though, the lyrics tell darker stories of confusing, damaged, and disintegrating relationships.

Though the sisters are remarkably candid — in their tunes, their chattiness, in their interviews — about the experiences that shape their music, much of it rooted in their sexuality (both are lesbians), Sara insists that "what makes us as human beings attached to art is our ability to apply it to our own lives. If you can take it and it's applicable to something that's going on in your life, what does it matter what's going on in mine?"

Indeed, The Con's themes are universal, which is why she took particular umbrage at a recent writeup in which, she explains, a male reviewer questioned their appeal to anyone who's not a 20-something lesbian.

"I literally have heard every mean, God-awful thing you can say about a person, and I've heard it about myself, and yet something about that — 'they're just not relatable' — I was really upset, like, for fuck's sake, what can you not relate to?" Sara laughs.

"When I was 8 years old, one of my favorite albums was Chris de Burgh's Spanish Train and Other Stories. What in the Christ did I have in common with Chris de Burgh? He's a grown man writing a weird concept record, and I'm like 8, living in the suburbs, riding around in a mini-van, and I have, like, an anxiety disorder. So who cares if you're a dude and we're girls or we're young or we're gay? We're singing about love and the human condition. Who can't relate to that?"

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Michael Alan Goldberg