It's not uncommon for Tegan and Sara Quin, the Canadian twins known for warm but prickly love-pop, to field marriage proposals from their fans. Taking a break from recording their upcoming album "Sainthood" at the Sound City Studios in Van Nuys earlier this year, the creatively coiffed sisters played off of each other's tales about their most ardent admirers.
"At one show," Tegan said, "a girl shrieked out, 'I want to marry you, Tegan!' I think she was maybe 16."
"We'd rather they flirt with us than some creepy guy in leather pants," Sara added. "The worst we'll do is take them on the tour bus to watch 'The Office' with us."
The kind of devotion that Tegan and Sara, 28, inspire in their fans -- a group largely composed of punk lasses with choppy haircuts -- is the result of one of the most direct connections from band to audience in all of indie pop. With confessional but analytical lyrics, Tegan and Sara have managed to capture the vicissitudes of relationships by examining their own romantic behaviors on albums including their 2004 breakthrough "So Jealous" and its strong 2007 follow-up, "The Con."
For "Sainthood," due Oct. 27, which takes its title from the Leonard Cohen song "Came So Far for Beauty," the twins plumbed the obsessive optimism that comes with new love by examining failed affairs, specifically their parents' divorce and Sara's long-term relationship.
"Getting out of a long relationship shook me to my core," she said. "You can be so committed to something and yet it still doesn't work. I think if we knew how things were going to end, most people wouldn't get involved, but love is throwing caution to the wind. All of the songs touch on that."
The twins will showcase material from "Sainthood," their sixth full-length collection, at the Orpheum Theatre on Oct. 25-26 and will kick off a nearly three-month tour of North America next February.
The sisters wrote together during a weeklong stint in New Orleans last November, but none of the songs they crafted, which they describe as "dark" and "super-raw," made the album. The experience, however, helped them pin down a title and a thematic focal point for "Sainthood."
Produced by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla (who also did double duty on bass) and Howard Redekopp, the tracks on "Sainthood" bounce between the sisters' distinctive styles. Tegan provided some of the more traditionally structured tracks, with Sara offering some of the more wild forays like the opening, "Arrow," a sputtering, nervy entreaty for both "tough love" and "a tender terminal kind of care."*
The Quins recorded the entire album live from the studio floor in Sound City for three weeks, finishing up in Seattle's Two Sticks Audio. They often would perform a song 40 times before they committed it to record.
"Sainthood" revels in obsessive intensity, but there's also a deeper sense of maturity creeping into the music. The sisters are less chirpy than they have been in the past. On "The Cure," there is both accusation and empathy in Tegan's voice as she sings, "I know the world's been mean to you. I've got a cure, hold tight."
"Our music keeps growing," Tegan said. "And our audience is looking younger to me. I look out at them and they remind me of myself."