Release Date: Sep 9, 2014
Record label: Communion Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Review Summary: Aces. Tennis has always been a band firmly planted in summer, with a ‘60s pop and ‘70s SoCal rock blend that fit tidily next to your Best Coast and Cults records in a dusty bin labeled “July,” or maybe “blog hype. ” Hell, the story revolving around the creation of 2011’s Cape Dory, when the husband and wife duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley sold their possessions and embarked on a worldwide sailing rip, is the kind of cute love story you smile about in May and gag on in November.
After a second album that added some decidedly mid-fi punch and pop to their lo-fi, lilting sound, Tennis' third album, Ritual in Repeat, continues down the same path. Working again with the Black Keys' Patrick Carney on about half the album, the band's sound is muscular and straightforward, with James Barone's drums driving the songs along powerfully and Alaina Moore's unique voice out front and center where it should be. Richard Swift is also on board as producer, and the songs he worked on have a little more of the first albums' dreamy quality, but also a stripped-down and focused feel that really works well.
The third studio album from the eternally charming indie-pop duo Tennis is just a teeny bit deceptive; as buoyant and carefree as the music seems, it was born from a rigorous writing and practicing schedule, adopted by the Denver-based band in response to a brutal case of writer's block. With this in mind, the record's title is perfectly in line with its final product: Ritual in Repeat is an elegantly constructed and crafted piece of pop music art borne from rigorous, exacting songwriting. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley (who are also a married couple) have once again taken a close look at matters of the heart in breezy bouncers like "Never Work for Free.
Denver duo Tennis splashed on to the scene with their 2011 oceanic doo-woppy debut, Cape Dory. It was a style that the indie-sphere hadn’t been graced with yet, and it established Tennis as a throwback act of sorts. Three years later, on the band’s third LP, Ritual in Repeat, Tennis embarks on an ambitious exploration reminiscent of classic pop singers and introduces a different type of throwback approach to their arsenal.
Nostalgia for the Brill Building sound is running high these days. Look no further than The New Pornographers’ first release in four years, Brill Bruisers, or the entire discography of the Denver indie pop duo Tennis. While that lush, vibrant sound offers an undeniably solid and well-respected cadre of influences, the irony in this nostalgia lies in how antithetical the Brill Building pop ethos was and is to the modern indie DIY philosophy.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. You'd probably be hard pushed to find anything in the sound of Tennis to suggest that they're a punk band, but they have spent the past four or so years railing against one of the most widely-held ideas in modern Western civilisation; that romantic and working relationships should be kept apart. Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore are married, but it hasn't slowed them down on the work front, with Ritual in Repeat their third full-length in four years; they've snuck an EP out in that time, too.
Tennis are still a young band, but their career to date would make a great case study for those trying to understand the multi-faceted, oft-destructive power of narrative in the world of contemporary music coverage. Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore emerged as the summer of 2010 started to take on heat, armed with a handful of breezy, weightless singles and a story that seemed salvaged from a rousing game of Indie-Pop Mad Libs: a young couple (insert relationship) from Denver (city) bought a sailboat (unconventional vehicle) and recorded an album about a journey on said vehicle, working under the name Tennis (sport). That album, Cape Dory, was released in January 2011, and could’ve been knocked over by a stiff sea breeze: the melodies within were pleasant but thin, and the cute story that lay at the album’s core wasn’t enough to render the music it inspired particularly compelling.
Tennis have made a solid career from their shimmering dream-pop shtick. Since releasing nautically-themed debut Cape Dory in 2011, the husband/wife pairing Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley have gone on to achieve respectable indie fame, notching up a cluster of fawning celebrity fans along the way..
The difference between “Cape Dory,” the debut that established Tennis’s twee-and-easy nautical pop, and the husband-and-wife duo’s third album, “Ritual in Repeat,” is a sharp reminder that a band’s vision can be established right from the start, but focus might still arrive later. The new disc is as summery as ever, but there’s a sultrier kick, a hot-blooded sway in songs like “I’m Callin’ ” that Tennis lacked early on. Where once the group was soft, now it judiciously uses softness; even when the chorus of “Night Vision” blooms into a cloud of cooing vocals and cottony guitar jangle, it’s anchored by sharp drums and locked-down bass.