Where To Start With | Tegan And Sara

Tegan and Sara mean a lot to a lot of people. Their role as queer icons and their commitment to being themselves in the face of music industry homophobia and sexism has been immeasurably important to generations of LGBT people. Our Juvenalia interview (which you can listen tomorrow) with Sara touches on a lot of those issues. We’re here today though to introduce newcomers to Tegan and Sara’s music. It’s difficult to know where to jump in with any critically acclaimed band with a big discography but with Tegan and Sara it’s especially daunting because, well, which Tegan and Sara do you want? Over eight albums and eighteen years, their music has evolved from alt-folk to pop-punk to soaring indie-rock to out-and-out pop bangers.

The constant through all of this is the quality of the songwriting; Tegan and Sara are great songwriters. They always give the impression that they’re giving you everything, articulating want and regret with a directness and originality that few others can match. They sing and play with total commitment. They’re two of the coolest people on the planet but their music is always earnest.

Early Tegan And Sara

Tegan and Sara’s first three albums, Under Feet Like Ours (1999), This Business Of Art (2000), and If It Was You (2002), are all good records but the band are still figuring themselves out stylistically so we’ve only included And Darling from If It Was You to represent this early part of their career. Do come back to them once you’re a fan though, there’s good stuff on there.

So Jealous (2004)

So Jealous is where Tegan and Sara take a huge leap forward. Vocally, they come into their own. The arrangements are less of their time than the previous albums. Where Does The Good Go? and Walking With A Ghost are unapologetically big songs. Speak Slow fizzes, pops, twists, and turns in unexecpected directions.


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The Con (2007)

The Con is widely regarded as Tegan and Sara’s masterpiece which is why we’ve included four songs from it here. If you take just one song from this article make it the title track. The Con is a JEWEL. This paragraph was a lot longer but really you just have to listen to it. It’s just, ugh, it’s brilliant. Listen to it now

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We’ve also included Burn Your Life Down and Dark Come Soon, two very dark songs that somehow manage to sound like warm hugs and also Call It Off which is just so sad and lovely. This album you guys, so good. Every bit of it.

Sainthood (2009)

Sainthood is, in general, a rockier album than The Con, all springy guitars and big drums. It sold less than The Con which seems unfair because it’s very, very good. Alligator is the poppiest thing they’d done up to that point. It’s a sad bop but it’s a bop nonetheless, Sara’s voice going down where a conventional song would rise.

[arve [arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3YBX0OfNzA” align=”center” autoplay=”no” maxwidth=”702"]p>We also recommend On Directing and Sentimental Tune. We don’t have an overarching thematic point to make about them, they’re just really good indie-rock songs and sometimes (always) it’s good to listen to very good indie rock played and sung by women.

Heartthrob (2013)

After Sainthood, Tegan and Sara decided to just GO FOR IT and write a big pop album. It worked. It really worked. Heartthrob succeeds at everything it sets out to do. It turns out that Tegan and Sara’s straightforward sincerity works really well with huge stadium synths. The lead single was Closer and, not to repeat ourselves but, it’s an absolute banger, a jump around and shout in your friend’s face classic. Look:

[arve ur[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e9NSMY8QiQ” align=”center” autoplay=”no” maxwidth=”702"]See also: I Was A Fool and  I’m Not A Hero. Big songs that take the best from the last four decades of pop whilst still being completely Tegan and Sara.

Love You To Death (2016)

The narrative around Heartthrob was that Tegan and Sara had abandoned guitars and taken up synths. This was an exaggeration, there are guitars all over Heartthrob and they’d used synths prominently as far back as So Jealous but on Love You To Death they really did leave the guitars in the cupboard and you know what? You don’t miss them at all. On Love You To Death, Tegan and Sara are at the top of their songwriting game. We’ve included Boyfriend, 100x, and U-Turn but really any song from Love You To Death is a good entry point. These are big, big pop songs about queer women by queer women and their importance can’t be overstated.

[arve url=[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJOHoiPGpac” align=”center” autoplay=”no” maxwidth=”702"], there you go. Tegan and Sara are the best. Here’s the Spotify playlist.

Bonus Video: They sang the end credits version of Everything Is Awesome!!!

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