Albums of the Decade: Tegan and Sara's The Con 

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It�€™s not until �€œBack In Your Head�€� that Sara gets her own pop single, and she earns it well with an infectious four-note piano part and overt pluckiness that ties together the sweetest of anxieties.  Here, the basic two-line chorus that Tegan and Sara are known for shines through, this time with an undeniable edge: �€œI just want back in your head/ I�€™m not unfaithful, but I�€™ll stray when I get a little scared.�€�

Where most of Sara�€™s songs feel perfectly restrained, Tegan�€™s carry an extra dose of energy, often cramming words into otherwise spare song structures.  �€œAre You Ten Years Ago�€� is a well-contained lyrical ramble wrapped around a mechanical drumbeat, resulting in a sound that embodies the feeling her words are meant to convey. It�€™s one of the most mentally anguished tracks on the record, and it�€™s that wordy repetition that makes it work.

�€œHop a Plane�€� takes that heartache and twists it into a rhythmic rock number, a song that is celebratory in execution if not in context.  Tegan is plaintive but matter-of-fact in her subject matter: �€œAll I need to hear is that you�€™re not mine.�€�  This brand of loneliness makes obvious song fodder, but there�€™s an undeniably compelling nakedness about it.  Elsewhere on the album, she toys with various lines of communication to indicate uncertainty �€“ writing emails or texts in �€œThe Con�€�, the absence of telephone calls in �€œSoil, Soil�€�, the temptations of reaching out in �€œFloorplan,�€� and later, a call placed to indicate finality in �€œCall It Off.�€�

The struggle with identity switches gears with an infusion of history on both �€œNineteen�€� and �€œLike O Like H,�€� where the concept of growing older is viewed through separate frameworks--the ending of a relationship and the allusion to family conflict.  One direct, the other obtuse, these songs again represent distinct but parallel paths of two different songwriters.  �€œNineteen�€� is another frenetic rock track, juxtaposing a relationship�€™s early days with its aftermath, perfectly capturing pent-up emotion in stark lyrical twists: �€œLove me/ You were all mine/ Love me/ I was yours, right?�€�

On �€œLike O Like H,�€� Sara again takes a sense of teenage isolation and spins it from a different perspective: with stilted yelps, she uses the all-too-familiar memory of growing pains to communicate social anxiety.  �€œBurn Your Life Down�€� is one of the album�€™s most melodic tracks, with layered synths and an ease that indicates the band�€™s �€œnew direction�€� is their most comfortable yet.

The Con ends with a pair of companion songs, �€œDark Come Soon�€� and �€œCall It Off�€�, both of which (as their titles indicate all too well) are the album�€™s bleakest moments.  �€œDark Come Soon�€� is an understated piece that slams unexpectedly into its chorus: �€œSo what? I lied / I lie to me, too.�€� It again brings the notion of loneliness to the forefront with a call to action: �€œEveryone I love / I need you now.�€�  It�€™s a difficult grappling, and an attempt to bring back interpersonal relationships to the theme of solitude that Sara�€™s songs have taken throughout the record.

�€œCall It Off,�€� the acoustic closing track (and later, the album�€™s final single), serves as the nail in the coffin for Tegan�€™s set of songs. The struggle to communicate comes to a close, and the result is the album�€™s best song.  �€œMaybe I would�€™ve been something you�€™d be good at,�€� it laments, perfectly encapsulating the notion that at the end of any relationship, the lack of certainty is what hits hardest.

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