Being a heterosexual female, the lyrics of the twin sister lesbian duet of Tegan and Sara Quin can sometimes be difficult to relate to in my own personal life.
When I saw Tegan and Sara live in 2007, I found myself in a crowd full of homosexuals, with women loving each other right and left while jamming out to their T & S licks. While I wasn’t intimidated and did not question my love for Tegan and Sara as artists, I started to question relating the lyrics to my everyday life.
This holds true when listening to their new album, Sainthood, released October 27. While listening to Sainthood, I was challenged to really feel the music because it contains more regressive, lesbian-rockish, emo tunes. Three listens in, however, was all it took to catch my interest. I haven’t stopped listening and questioning the meaning of the album since.
Sainthood’s focus, to me, seems primarily on the obsession of heartbreak. The title itself is a bit ironic, considering the controversial background of Tegan and Sara writing about women loving women. Despite the gossiping celebrity rumors I have heard of one of them going through a breakup, it is clear that they are trying to discover their secular culture: as women, as lesbians, and as pop culture icons.
A lesser focus of this album also relates back to unrequited love. The song “Northshore” touches base with this, using the verb “don’t” over 50 times throughout the uppity, faster rock song to reveal a deeper sense of emotional ties being broken with haste. The lyrics also reveal the artists’ devotion to the addiction of being with someone you are in love with, which aids in broadening their appeal to a more general audience.
“Night Watch” struck me with a lot of interest the first time I heard it. The beginning lyrics mention divorce, which has been a growing topic on my mind because my 25-year married parents are currently battling one out. The song’s lyrics “I’ve got grounds for divorce/it’s in my blood this divorce” bring light to the fact that some relationships cannot last through thick and thin, and that sometimes it’s better to do what’s blood thick as compared to the right choice.
The song “Paperback Head” surprised me, for it does not tune into the pathetic romance the rest of Sainthood seems to convey. Instead, it relates the idealistic view of stardom to the negative, insisting that pleasing the crowd isn’t always the best thing. Tegan and Sara use the term paperback (book) to show how flexible and materialistic becoming a star can make you: “you have to become what your fans see/paperback head, you get carried away.” This album seems a general representation of their desire to sing from their heart, and not necessarily to their fans.
Overall, Sainthood relates Tegan and Sara’s devotion to their fans to a love affair. Similar to the pressure to please a lover in a relationship, Sainthood seems to be the rebel child of Tegan and Sara’s music, conquering the stereotypical broken relationship — whether with people or with the church — and turning it into art.
Sainthood ends with the track “Someday”, an empowerment for women of all kinds to take charge of. “Mark my words, I might be something someday.”