I've always admired the hustle of Amanda Palmer. Rabid blogger, intense Twitterer (hey AFP, shout at me some time, K?), and the creator of creepy, aching tunes that I can't listen to arbitrarily without being transported to a world that I'm not always exactly ready to be in. Her solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, saved my life under no uncertain terms last Christmas, and her post-Book Expo America show at Highline Ballroom earlier in 2009 ranks as one of my favorite live shows of all time.
When I wrote about Tegan And Sara's Sainthood, I reveled in the biting, scorned tone of the lyrical (and musical) content of the album, noting that it was their loudest album for a reason.
Now, on a chilled fall day, comes this into my lap-"Light Up', a bonus addendum (with one other track) to Sainthood's MP3 release. It's immediately obvious why "Light Up" shouldn't be taken as a natural child of its birth album-if Sainthood is blacked out whiskey night, saying and doing things that can't be undone, "Light Up" is a few weeks after, sun kissing windows and the promise of something new. It's a welcome juxtaposition to the album's fury and laceration-a salve, really; a renewal. Fresh sheets and a fresh start. It's just a blip of a song, a few minutes and a few repeated "let them say what they will, they will anyhow"s and one line that knocks me to the ground, gently:
"well, eggshells are not easy to hold. we uncurl and unwind when we sleep side-by-side"
Amanda Palmer recently called the new Tegan and Sara album Sainthood a “grower”, and I’m never one to disagree with AFP, but Sainthood grabbed me immediately.
Ok, no immediately, but from the first time I heard “Don’t Rush”-the second song on the record. What appears at first shine to be a standard poppy love song with a harder edge is actually the sort of raw and wry half-plea/half-kissoff (basically an “I fucked up, and I’ll cover it up, wait don’t run away” song) that Bono perfected so well on Achtung, Baby. In fact, the entire album is like that-even though the production’s up to the caliber of some of the most polished moments on The Con, the emotions here run red and deep and raw and hurt. The lyrics run themselves in confused circles that mask hurt and anger with faux-sincerity until eventually the whole thing drops and you feel what’s been lost. This is an ideal winter-weather post-breakup record even though musically it’s the loudest thing T&S have ever done. The full plug-in can’t compete with the sound of bitten tongues firmly planeted in cheeks, and that’s what’s going to make Sainthood an album I return to again and again over the next few months.