There have been three major album releases from Canadian based lady led bands. The First came with Metric’s Release of Fantasies. The Second came much later in the year with Magneta Lane’s Gambling With God. The Third act is that of the twin sister lead Tegan And Sara who have only recently come out with their sixth album Sainthood. These three bands create a good representation of what is out their in the music world in terms of stylistic ideologies. But which came out with the best album this year? Putting aside any past glory we are going to look at each bands’ latest offering and rank them on that basis. Now, a major issue with comparing these bands comes with the simple fact that, like I said, they are stylistically different, Metric has more of a contemporary underground feel to it while Tegan and Sara convey a much more pop-centric tone accompanied by delicate melodies, Megneta Lane distinguishes itself with it’s familiar Ramones/The Pretenders vibe.
The best way to start is with comparing the most similar artists, in this case that would be Metric and Tegan and Sara. These two bands have a lot going for them including but not restricted to their sounds. The voice of Metric, Emily Haines, and lead singers of Tegan and Sara seem to have similar characteristics, ones that embody a kind of arid sadness, and both bands reside in the bread of indie-pop. Emily Haines and her band Metric have come out with a new album months ago, Fantasies. As a type of indie-pop with a deep electronic foundation, Metric is a fine example of what happens when you take classically trained musicians put them in Montreal/Toronto, then mix. This is just what happened in the formative years of the band, all members coming from some kind of Arts background whether it be training in Juilliard (James Shaw) or being the daughter of a well known poet (Emily Haines). Their newest offering is more ethereal if not confused than pervious albums. Nevertheless, this album offers us a music selection which is inventive at some points and comfortingly familiar in others. Though, this album is far less appealing than others released by the band and if you are a fan of Metric you may be disappointed with this one.
If you could compare the offerings of Tegan and Sara to any other bands, it would be a kind of perverted mixture of Courtney Love’s Hole and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That is not to say they somehow are outdone by Metric, it is actually the opposite. Tegan and Sara’s Sainthood somehow finds itself more redeemable than the confused Fantasies delivered by Metric. In visceral appeal alone Sainthood stands about Fantasies, it contains more interesting, if not pleasant tracks than the other. (Side Note: Metric's acoustic album Plug In Plug Out contains some amazing renditions of the tracks off of Fantasies, ones that might make you think… ‘why couldn’t they make the whole Fantasies album sound like this?’.)
So what does that leave? Magneta Lane and Tegan and Sara, it seems that sibling/cousin filled bands are popping up all over the place in Canada, I guess there really are not that many people in that country. Tegan and Sara being twin sisters and all and Magneta Lane’s members also have a pair of sisters plus a cousin, making both bands a family affair. Magneta Lane, a band heavily influenced by classics such as The Pretenders, Sonic Youth and The Kinks, and have most recently released the album Gambling With God. The album features a number of finely executed tracks, so much so you may think the band hails from some nook in down town Montreal or played their way through the dive bars in and around New York City. This threesome is in fact from Toronto Ontario and Gambling with God as their third album is… quite the album. As you listen to it you can hear a number of influences and they coalesce in a way that brings about a sense of the band’s appreciation of both the new and old.
Gambling with God is a more clear-cut brand of Alt-Rock, filled with a casual sense of lyrical storytelling. The vocals delivered by lead singer Lexi Valentine are at some points reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel of She & Him, that is, if Zooey had any vocal edge at all. The melodies are relatively simplistic, and while the execution is precise. Gambling with God is no gamble at all (hold for applause). With a solid collection of tracks this album is by far the best female-only rock album of the year. But what makes Magneta Lane’s album superior to that of the others mentioned is heart, Fantasies and Sainthood are too pop-centric, they leave you feeling musically malnourished. Stepping over both Metric and Tegan and Sara for the simple reason that the album Gambling with God is a surprise that continues to maintain its initial appeal due to the more potent content, while the other two albums are more suitable for the Wal-Mart ‘Hot Picks’ rack.
How it all played out: Metric’s album Fantasies finds itself at the bottom of the pile in third place due to its overall disappointing nature. Tegan and Sara fill in the middle slot with Sainthood, with its pop pleasant sound and numerous catchy tracks. The winner overall is the less notable yet more musically interesting Megneta Lane’s album Gambling With God.