October 27, 2009 / 6:18 AM / 8 years ago

"Sainthood" takes Tegan & Sara to "Hell" and back

3 Min Read

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Canadian indie-rock duo Tegan & Sara's snappy songwriting and intimate lyrics have found a steadily growing audience in the United States since the twin sisters started recording songs a decade ago.

"The Con," the duo's 2007 album, debuted at No. 34 on the Billboard 200 and led to an opening slot on Death Cab for Cutie's 2008 U.S. tour.

"Sainthood," their sixth full-length release, is due Tuesday (October 27) on Vapor/Sire Records. The propulsive first single, "Hell," was released to iTunes October 6, and with its bouncy bassline and anthemic chorus, it might be key to expanding the duo's audience.

"It's less of a goal to get on radio and more of a goal to not resist radio as much as we have in the past," Sara Quin said. "We've had a really comfortable arc in our career, but at this point we recognize there is a fan base we have yet to entice. With this album, I know we have a shot at it."

After writing separately throughout their careers, Tegan & Sara penned lyrics together for the first time during a writing trip to New Orleans in fall 2008. They used the concept of sainthood, inspired by a Leonard Cohen song, as a thesis for songs of devotion and emotional longing.

The duo began recording in May with Howard Redekopp and Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla, who advised the girls to shake up their well-worn recording process by playing each song with a full band in the studio instead of relying on overdubbing.

"The nature of what Tegan and I did had always been solitary," Quin said. "I felt terrified playing the songs live because, honestly, I didn't know if I could do it. But the songs just sounded more fleshed-out ... and I think they'll be stronger, especially live."

In conjunction with the album release, Tegan & Sara are issuing "On," "In" and "At," a three-book set that chronicles the sisters' past year through writings and photographs. The self-published books were the vision of Tegan, whose goal was to "make something that fans could hold in their hands -- not something to re-create on their computer screens," Quin said.

After a November 2 performance on "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien," Tegan & Sara will play select dates in Europe during November and launch a two-month U.S. headlining tour in February. They're spending six to seven hours a day rehearsing for the shows, and found that the experience of recording "Sainthood" with a full band was great practice for their biggest tour yet.

"We've become a really good live band, and I say that in the most humble way possible," Quin said with a laugh. "We usually dread rehearsals, but this year they've been a breeze."

Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters

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