Release Date: Feb 14, 2012
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
On their 2011 debut, husband-and-wife team Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley played miniskirt-twirling girl-group tunes about a boat trip they took down the East Coast. It's a grabby conceit they don't try to top here; they just bang out a solid set of similarly Spectorian stuff, where surfy organ pipes and confectionary ooh-oohs get toughened by garage-rock production from the Black Keys' Patrick Carney. Moore is a Ronnie Spector minus any Sixties optimism or teen-dream illusions; on "Origins," the sense of betrayal almost feels biblical: "Will you make my children bear the consequences (everywhere)?" she asks her evil man.
Cape Dory, the debut album from husband-and-wife-plus-drummer trio Tennis, was hailed as a burst of summer in the dead of winter this time last year. It chronicled a sailing trip down the Eastern seaboard and, while definitely an achievement launched with vigor and joy, could have alternately been titled “Smiley Happy Hipsters Holding Hands.” Their followup, Young & Old, will not suffer that fate, thanks to the gritty production fingerprints of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. He allows the band to retain their innate sweetness while ever so deftly smudging the edges of their sunshiney sound.
After their first album and the story behind it, Tennis weren't going to have an easy time with the follow-up. How do you compete with a record that came out of nowhere and knocked people out with its lovely, lo-fi-sounding '50s pop and the romantic back-story of how all the songs were written on a months-long boat excursion at sea? The easy answer is that you don't. The duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley decided to keep the core sound intact on Young & Old but expand it a bit, adding drummer James Barone to the band full-time and hitting the studio with Black Key Patrick Carney behind the board.
Last year the duo Tennis emerged with a collection of cute, catchy indie pop and the kind of back story that’s catnip for publicists and rock writers – members Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley wrote the songs for the album after completing a seven-month sailing trip down the Eastern seaboard following their nuptials. Peppered with nautical references and indebted to both garage rock and girl group pop, Tennis could have walked straight out of a Wes Anderson script, all fetching naiveté and stylized romance. If the whole indie-rock-on-a-boat seemed too much to take, that’s because it was, at times.
When Tennis gave us Cape Dory early last year it was the product of Alaina Moore and husband-cum-bandmate Patrick Riley’s seven-month sailing expedition along the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard. From the initial plea for excitement on Take Me Somewhere, their physical and emotional voyage was documented through a carefully constructed fusion of narrative and style. Wrought with aural metaphor, you could feel the waves lap around the toes of the tale’s ingénue as Moore’s coquettish coos weaved through the ebb and flow of waltzing percussion and surf pop guitar lines.
Remember where you heard it first, folks. 2012 isn’t about our impending doom and it certainly isn’t about some fuckers running around a track in east London. This year, it’s all about the dream-poppers of recent years growing some balls/gaining confidence (delete to your taste) and letting us hear their wistful jams. Thanks in part to the production hand of [a]The Black Keys[/a]’ Patrick Carney, [a]Tennis[/a]’s Motown ditties have surfaced from underneath their fuzz pedal.
It’s been nearly three years since Camera Obscura released an album, which probably seems like an intolerably long time to the cardiganed twee-obsessive in your life. Fortunately, Tennis have stepped in to fill that particular gap in the music market with their own blend of romance, nostalgia, spangly guitars and general low-key loveliness. Last year Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley came along clutching Cape Dory, an album that the couple wrote as they sailed around the Atlantic Ocean in a mini-yacht, like a pair of cheerful indiepop Ellen MacArthurs.
In the midst of all the indie “beach pop” bands emerging in 2010 and 2011, the unassuming boy-girl duo that is Tennis felt like a great light-hearted break from all the melancholy of bands like Real Estate and Beach House. The majority of songs on the band’s debut album were all under three minutes—each tributes to stops on the couple’s Eastern Seaboard adventure. Something about their bizarre origin story and the leisurely sailing songs just clicked.
The title of Tennis' second album could almost as easily describe the first. The music on last year's Cape Dory bobbed sweetly between Brill Building tunefulness and classic indie pop production values, and the basic lyrical themes were at least as old as jazz standard "A Sailboat in the Moonlight", hold the moonlight. But the sailing trip that inspired the Colorado-based band's debut also fulfilled something newer: the internet's need for easily digestible narrative.
Proof that Dave Gurney’s TMT review of Cape Dory was not the ruination of their career, wife-and-husband team Tennis are back with album number two and look to break with the recent indie tradition of merely looking the part while pilfering the past. Admittedly, awarding this here release a three-point-oh dot approval rating may be inferred as a shade overgenerous, but I’m feeling in a benevolent mood toward Tennis today. And why not? I’m all for giving second chances after initial missteps.
The opening track on Tennis’ new album Young and Old is titled “It All Feels the Same”, but that’s not really an apt description of the married duo’s second go-around. While the syrupy melodies on Young and Old might appear as sweet as the ones that got Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley noticed on Tennis’ debut Cape Dory, more has changed than stayed the same as the twosome has tried to build on what was a charming and endearing first effort. That’s clear from the very beginning on “It All Feels the Same” once you get past the similarities on the surface, as you can tell from Tennis’ bolder sound and the ambivalent love song thematics that don’t rely on the high-seas getaway concept that made Cape Dory a one-of-a-kind listen.
The indie world has a difficult relationship with gimmick. When that gimmick gets called out for being trite, fake, what have you, a band can be instantly buried. When it’s done well, it might be accepted. Husband and wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, better known as Tennis, were such a success story.
TennisYoung & Old[Fat Possum; 2012]By Philip Cosores; February 15, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThe story of Tennis is, sadly, more interesting than their music. The pair of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley were college sweethearts, spent seven months at sea gathering material that would turn into their debut LP (Cape Dory), and have graduated to working with The Black Keys' Patrick Carney as a producer on their new album, Young & Old. Where there might have been hope for some growth from the sun-drenched, lazy day take on 60s girl-group pop that characterized Cape Dory, we find that little has changed in the Tennis camp, resulting in an album that sounds like a honeymoon that never ended, where the bride and groom should probably return to real life.
The husband and wife duo of Tennis could have easily become a gimmick. Its debut LP, Cape Dory, is a nostalgic love letter to the eight months the couple spent sailing the Eastern Seaboard. Tennis could have continued the nautical theme for as long as it saw fit, eventually becoming “that sailing band.” But luckily, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley expand their sound and stay on dry land for their second album titled Young And Old on Fat Possum.While the lyrical themes have changed, the same ’60s surf-pop from Cape Dory shows up on this album.
Tennis are a husband and wife duo who make sweet, twee sounding indie music together, and the name derives from the fact Patrick (the husband) was a tennis player at university when they first met. They have chosen to release their second album ‘Young & Old’ the day before Valentines Day; depending on your tolerance of mush, this might well induce involuntary retching.With song titles like ‘Never To Part’ and ‘My Better Self’, there is certainly a feeling that Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley recorded this album whilst wearing matching his-and-hers knitwear, but sweep that preconception aside for a moment. ‘Young & Old’ has an edge that was absent from their debut – in part down to the choice of producer Patrick Carney.
Transplants the pair’s fine ear for a melody onto rather meatier arrangements. Mike Diver 2012 2011’s debut set from Denver-based husband-and-wife duo Tennis, Cape Dory, was the sort of sweet but slight affair which delighted for its duration but quickly escaped the memory. This follow-up, recorded in Nashville with The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, looks to take the step from home-recording project to band proper.
In a sense, husband-and-wife duo Tennis is an accidental band. Born from an idyllic eight-month sailing trip up the Atlantic coast, 2010 debut Cape Dory charmed the music community. Although Tennis may not have had quite the inspiration for its follow-up, Young & Old proves it can still make shimmering beach pop even while anchored to the shore. Unlike the trio's instantaneously endearing debut, Young & Old takes a few listens before realizing its merits and the growth of the band.
The title of Tennis’ sophomore album, Young & Old, is a fitting description for the Denver trio, who's headed by married couple singer/keyboardist Alaina Moore and guitar/bassist Patrick Riley. The young pair met in college, signifying the first part of the album title, while their music harks back a half-century to early ’60s pop crooners, as filtered through keyboard-driven ’80s new wave. After their dreamy, lo-fi indie-pop debut, Cape Dory, attracted significant blog buzz, Tennis have returned barely a year later with another 10-track disc of three-minute pop songs.