The world of pop could use a lot more pop like Tegan and Sara's, and less posturing on MTV with a computerized voice.
And the identical twins show even greater variety in their fifth full-length album, three years after the Juno-nominated "So Jealous." In "The Con," they basically polish their existing guitar pop, but fill the sprightly melodies with confusing experiences and sorrowful romances.
It opens with a delicate piano ballad, framing a pretty, poignant song about the confusion and struggles of gay people. "To my heart confusion rose against/the muscles fought so long/to control against the pull of one/magnet to another magnet to another magnet," Tegan and Sara Quin sing together in shifting melodies. "I look into the mirror/for evil that just does not exist..."
Things get much more sprightly for the swirling pop of "Relief Next to Me," or the songs that it lays the groundwork for: rapid-fire dancepop, mellow piano ballads, bouncy little indie melodies, mellow acoustics, dark urgent pop stabbed with drumbeats, and energetic powerpop that doesn't let its bounciness keep it from staying intense.
Don't listen to "The Con" just once. Listen at least twice.
On the first listen you hear a rush of peppy indiepop that's fun and catchy, even when it's being serious. But the second time around you hear all the delicate interweaving of acoustics and keyboard, and the wistful, mournful look back at love and growing to maturity.
The Quin sisters play some nimble, swirling guitars, with some bass guitar beefing up songs like the rock-y "Hop A Plane." Ted Gowans also underscores some of the songs with sprightly piano pop, and he also weaves ribbons of glimmering synth through the earthy pop melodies. There are moments of messiness like "Like O, Like H," but usually they smoothly twine into a layered, solid pop melody.
They sing everything in girlish, harmonized voices, but the sisters also provide "The Con" with its bittersweet, confusing songwriting. And they've gained more maturity here as well, with lots of enigmatic lines, recollections of the past and lovelorn memories ("If I forget or God forbid die too soon/hope that you'll hear me know that I wrote to you...").
The up-and-down of lyrical romantic angst ends with the painful "Call it Off," which is all about how one of them is in love still, but knows the relationship is doomed ("You take your time coming over here/I think that's for the best/Call, break it off").
Tegan and Sara reach a new level of musical skill with "The Con" -- it's brilliant pop, but filled with heartfelt problems and uncertainty. Definitely a winner.