I don’t seem to be able to write a review for Tegan & Sara‘s Sainthood. What could I possibly say about it? I could say that I was bothered by it even before I received it because I ended up paying a lot of money for it (in the limited edition with three books). I could also say that I got annoyed by everyone talking about the songs before I had ever heard them, that I got even more frustrated when people told me that they were bummed out because they couldn’t talk about the album with me before I had it. And I could say that I was disappointed by it when I first heard it.
But then, I could also say that it is a so-called grower, that I liked it better with each listen, that I’m impressed in particular with Sara’s musical evolution, with her lyrics, with her voice on Alligator. That my favorite tracks are Alligator, Night Watch, Don’t Rush and Northshore, and that I think The Ocean would sound better if it were a lot slower, and that Someday sounds like an MGMT song.
But I’d rather tell you that I’m not very upset anymore about having spent all that money, because the three books of the limited edition are very good and very well done, with textile covers (made in China) and many big photographs and interesting texts, a mostly cool design by ee storey and others. Of all the overpriced articles I’ve bought in my life, this might easily be the best.
I do want to question their marketing strategy, however. They gave people who ordered Sainthood through iTunes two bonus songs, Wrists and Light Up, and an additional one, It Was Midnight, if they pre-ordered. I suppose rewarding pre-ordering in general is not a bad idea. This way, I imagine, the album sells particularly well in the release week. Plus, you’re rewarding those that actually know or care that you have a new album out. However, this also seems to suggest they had rather you bought the album digitally than to get a real, physical copy of it (which might explain why the CD booklet is a little boring compared with that of The Con). I don’t have an iTunes account or any Apple gadgets for that matter, and since the only other way to get these songs seems to be an illegal download, I’m not particularly pleased.
So in that regard, I hope for their next album, they’ll take their friend Rachael Cantu as an example, who just yesterday started selling her new CD Far and Wide (that Tegan Quin contributed vocals to, by the way, and which has overachiever Ted Gowans doing “keyboards, guitar, mandolin, synth, rhodes, slide gtr” [source]). You can download it, or buy it as a physical copy – but buying a physical copy also gives you the digital download for free – even in FLAC format! Plus, you can buy it without using Pay Pal, which is also really great. (This doesn’t currently work if you live outside the U.S., but she assured me they’re working on fixing that.) You can get that CD at Bandcamp.
All in all I can say that Sainthood, however controversial it may be among many of their fans, is another step forward for Tegan & Sara, and it’s well worth getting. And don’t forget to get yourself the song Sheets, either!