Tegan and Sara
The Con



by brew618 USER (3 Reviews)
October 21st, 2015 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: How many love songs can you write?

“Nowhere Man,” John Lennon’s nihilistic contribution to their career halfway point Rubber Soul was supposedly the first Beatles song to be written on a topic other than romance. Five albums, countless singles, two feature films, an international craze and generations of mass cultural influence all made out of, up to that point, a bunch of songs about holding hands, couples dances and the various other accoutrements of teenaged puppy love. Though the Paul McCartney who was “happy just to dance with you” in 1964 was desperate to “do it in the road” a mere four years later, love and romance are undoubtedly the most-discussed themes in music throughout recorded history.

Though the songwriter’s crown may forever rest upon the collective head of Lennon/McCartney, the partnership of Quin/Quin have birthed a musical portfolio that, in theory, seems similar to the Beatles’ early discography: catchy guitar pop songs no longer than four minutes, virtually each of which pertains to romantic love. In practice, however, 2007’s The Con is like a distorted take on the same themes present in Please Please Me. “I can’t close an eye, and now there’s just no point in reaching out to you” sings a wistful Sara on “Relief Next to Me,” the album’s second song. Most references to love throughout The Con are meditations on what went or is currently going wrong: the aforementioned “Relief” is a post-traumatic breakup diatribe, “Hop a Plane” discusses the difficulties found in keeping a long-distance relationship alive (while recording the album Sara was struggling to get a Canadian visa for her American-born girlfriend) “Nineteen” is a heartfelt look back on the purity of emotion in teenaged romance and “Are You Ten Years Ago” stutters out the narrative of a dissolving relationship amidst syncopated beats from producer Chris Walla. For Tegan and Sara love is, at this point in their lives, a difficult situation that must be endured in the hope that positivity will eventually return. Even this hope is marred, however, by the sisters’ uncertainty and self-doubt. “I’m not unfaithful but I’ll stray” is the refrain to “Back in Your Head,” a saccharine ballad at the album’s midpoint. Sara’s desire to be thought of fondly by an ex-lover is laid out plainly in this song, but is the subject the same person she initially drifted away from in
“Knife Going In?”

The Con’s detractors have often pointed to the album’s disjointed nature as its weak point. The mismatched brickwork of the album cannot be denied; cutesy “Back in Your Head” is followed by the rocker “Hop a Plane” which leads directly into the short, spacey “Soil, Soil,” each transition as jarring as the touchdown of an Air Canada flight carrying long distance lovers away from each other. In my opinion, however, this sequencing helps to make the album memorable as its fourteen songs can be played in virtually any order (obvious opener “I Was Married” notwithstanding) and remain thematically consistent in addition to maintaining their relevance both inside of the album and on their own. Further sticking with the Beatles formula, the Kaki King-assisted “Floorplan,” despite clocking in at a modest three minutes and forty-one seconds, is the longest song on this album. Each song accomplishes what it set out to do quickly, whisking you away to the next tune before the emotional wounds it inflicts are given time to heal. "Soil, Soil," beautiful, ethereal and not even a minute and a half long could keep going, but does it need to? No song on The Con overstays its welcome; most depart early, leaving you wanting more the same way that the album's titular lovers want one last embrace, one last feeling of affection. In this manner the album remains disconnected in both form and function: the separation between songs can be seen to represent the space between both the sisters and their lovers. The Con is a testament to Tegan and Sara’s abilities to overcome separation both physical and emotional in order to craft an album of fourteen shiny little pop gems that should serve as a reminder that love, while always difficult, is an ultimately worthwhile endeavor.

user ratings (432)
other reviews of this album
FlawedPerfection EMERITUS (3.5)
Indie pop goodness but underdeveloped...

Brendan Schroer STAFF (5)
A confessional, autobiographical masterpiece....

armfarm (4)

TheSaneLunatic (3.5)
Another fine album from Tegan And Sara... although several songs should have been altered for length...

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 21st 2015


Album Rating: 5.0

good stuff

really great album

October 22nd 2015


Album Rating: 4.7


Ocean of Noise
October 23rd 2015


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

amazing album

October 3rd 2018


“Back in Your Head” came on the radio today and it was my first exposure to this album. Song has some epic hooks.

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