A sister act

In addition to their bio, Tegan and Sara also have songs
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  February 12, 2010

1002_tegan_main
THE WAY IT WASN'T: "I don't know what our band would sound like if people had really focused on our music when we were first starting out," says Sara (right).

Say what you will about the usefulness of music journalists. Sometimes we get the details wrong, sometimes we let our subjective soft spots trip up our better judgment, and sometimes we just make stuff up. But sometimes we do something that hardly anybody else can: we drive artists so fucking crazy with our relentless prying bullshit that they go and become better artists. High-fives all around: together we made Tegan and Sara rule. (Well, in a way.)

"I don't know what our band would sound like if people had really focused on our music when we were first starting out," says nominal latter half Sara. "It was so rare that people would want to interview us, and when they did, it was always about our sexuality, or that we were twins, or whatever. We were so rarely influenced by what people thought about our music that it just kind of blindly developed."

So maybe everybody's missing the point for years paid off. For her part, Sara is grateful it all went down the way it did — though she wishes it hadn't taken 12 years. For the first five or so of those years (that is, until 2004's So Jealous landed them in thousands of big fat iPods with the kid-tested, Jack White–approved "Walking with a Ghost"), the two found themselves cemented in opening position, albeit for some pretty fancy tours (Neil Young, the Killers, Ryan Adams). It was great exposure, but it also threw them into something of a critical vacuum: so eager to budge them upward were their bigger-name billmates, and so boiling over their twinny lesbianism was the primordial blog ooze, that their music always seemed irrelevant.

"There was this sensation in the beginning where people were just suspicious of us," Sara tells me from Montreal. " 'So you got signed by Neil Young . . . how did that happen?' — as though we just won a spelling bee and were horrible spellers our whole lives."

If Sainthood (Sire) is any indication, these girls know how to spell. It's by far their most arresting set of songs, largely because it's styled like a live show, with one barely-three-minute pop-splosion after the next. It's as much a band album as a variety pack. A faint new-wave hue makes "Red Belt" and "Don't Rush" glow, whereas "Paperpack Head" and "The Ocean" draw from deeply dug post-punk roots. Even as "Arrow" shows some leg to potential remixers, it stands on its own as a fiery little workhorse of a rock song — sporting (and owning) the very indecisiveness that earned the two flak early on.

We do agree that it'd be wrong to dismiss completely the whole twin thing from the successful equation that's brought Tegan and Sara to where they are today — or more to the point, to the Orpheum on Saturday. As we know from television, twins possess the creepy ability to recede into a world known only unto them — in this case, a sort of psychic practice space into which no one else is allowed to bring his shit. Although their music has changed, their nerves have waned, and many of their dreams have been achieved over the course of 12 years of making music together, some things haven't changed a bit. Sara would still "fight a tiger" for Tegan. . . . "And we're always apologizing and thanking people. We're kind of cliché Canadian that way."

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Entertainment, Music,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY MICHAEL BRODEUR
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   FOLK ACT  |  June 26, 2010
    Vikesh Kapoor
  •   BOSTON PRIDE WEEK: OFF THE MAP  |  June 07, 2010
    We may seem a little cranky, but us local gayfolk just love a parade, and we’re actually heartened by this annual influx of brothers and sisters from every state of New England and every letter of our ever-expanding acronym.  
  •   THE NEW GAY BARS  |  June 02, 2010
    If I may channel the late, great Estelle Getty for a moment: picture it, Provincetown, 2009, a dashing young man with no discernible tan and an iffy T-Mobile signal languishes bored upon the sprawling patio of the Boatslip Resort.
  •   ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI | BEFORE TODAY  |  June 01, 2010
    If the gradual polishing of Ariel Pink’s sound — and it’s not all that much more polished — puts his loyalists at odds with his albums, I count that as good news.
  •   MORE THAN HUMAN  |  May 26, 2010
    It’s hard to talk about Janelle Monáe when your jaw’s fallen off.

 See all articles by: MICHAEL BRODEUR