REVIEW: Tennis – “Young & Old”

[Feb. 14, 2012 – Fat Possum Records // Find it at: Insound | iTunes]


Love can be a fickle thing, but in the case of Denver’s Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, it’s not. Since their seven month sailing trip, the husband and wife duo have been able to take stories, feelings and a relationship and pen legitimate pop songs that bend styles and fuse a chemistry that’s nearly impenetrable, which blindingly outlines Tennis’ latest effort. Young & Old is a smooth continuation to the beach pop delight of Cape Dory and its sincere romanticism and with The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney at the production helm, it’s a lot bolder than one would think. Whereas the band are caught in the realism of becoming artists, their hindsight, along with their skill sets as instrumentalists, are now refined with recordings instilling hip-hop (“My Better Self”) and keys-heavy blues (“Origins”) rather than just a stretch of lo-fi. It, along with the new addition of close friend/drummer James Barone’s elastic ability with the sticks, pushes Tennis into a new territory, a place where Moore feels a lot more comfortable.

On Young & Old, her songwriting still holds a personal touch to it, which is almost vague at times, but as a vocalist, her attention to melody has become almost unstoppable. On “It All Feels The Same”, her changes in pitch wrap themselves ever so gently over the rush of a grimy indie guitar while at other times, it’s able to adapt to more funk-based tempos (“Petition”) and be delightfully sweet on it’s own (“Dreaming”, “Take Me To Heaven”). It’s a trait Tennis use to invent a wave rather than wash away with the rest and Moore’s spark of voice along with Riley’s astute guitar work make the record exhilarating. Its core is cut from the band’s original sound, but the way “High Road” moves, taking that breezy indie rock and fluttering into an emphatic ending where a warm voice swoons along to chords and makes even the word “paradise” pop, is what’s so distinct. Like their last album, Tennis have created another collection that’s a true record from beginning to end. It’s not culture-defying but it’s a graceful mix of summery rock n’ roll, Motown-era pop and new wave elements that’s almost too rapturous to sing along to when you can just let every riff and line about love and complex emotion sink in.

Download: “High Road”, “Never To Part”, “Petition”

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