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Tennis – Cape Dory

February 9, 2011

[18th January 2010, Fat Possom Records]

I first heard Tennis on bandcamp with their debut “Baltimore EP” way back when in the summer of 2010. Both the title track “Baltimore” and the effortlessly poppy “Marathon” blend in nicely with the lo-fi movement of recent years, and while it didn’t stand out from the crowd, I very much enjoyed the summery musings of Alaina Moore and her husband Patrick Riley, and even enjoyed the sha la la’s on the EP’s third track, “Cape Dory” (which is also the name of their sailboat – I’ll tell you more about that in a minute).

Tennis – Baltimore

Fast forward half a year to January 2011: Tennis found much success with their EP, secured a record deal, and Cape Dory became the title of their debut album, which features all 3 tracks from their EP. Given my warm feelings towards the EP, I was quite looking forward to this album, and seeing what twist this married couple from Denver had implemented on their middle-of-the-road sound to stamp their mark on what could otherwise be quite a bland and genre-fulfilling album. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ve stamped on anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the tracks from the EP, and the fact that the couple spent a year on a boat does add some charm. Apparently, after finishing college in Colorado, they sold their possessions and bought a sailboat, and just sailed around for ages. They collated their experiences into songs, and the sea-faring influence is obvious, and adds much to the appeal of their music.
But even the re-recording of “Baltimore” is not to my liking, taking away emphasis from the choppy drums and adding yet more reverb to the guitars. Luckily, “Marathon” and “Cape Dory” stay truer to their originals. The wishy-washy “Bimini Bay” ambles towards a gentle enjoyable solo, “South Carolina” picks up the pace and forms a straightforward but enjoyable pop love song, and “Seafarer” hits home the sailing message with another 3 minute cheery pop number. “Waterbirds” closes the album nicely with a beautiful guitar lick, but other than that, the album is filled with 3 minute dreamy pop songs, which didn’t stand out to me.

Tennis – Marathon

Their 60s pop influences are clear, but their capricious drumbeats and wall of reverb do nothing to help promote the summery vibe I felt last summer. There’s nothing new here we haven’t seen from Beach House, Best Coast, or numerous other female fronted bands, other than a distinct feeling of nostalgia. Perhaps nostalgia is what they were going for – their sound, and artwork certainly call on trends and fashion from a previous age –  and this is also what I feel when I listen to the album: Tennis are clinging to memories of their summer on the ocean, and clinging to the fantastic EP they released last year. Nevertheless, I will hang on to this album until the summer, and I’m sure the sunshine will help these songs blossom.

You can listen to Tennis on Spotify here, and be sure to check out some other featured songs from our blog too!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. j-diz permalink
    February 9, 2011 5:16 pm

    Why is everything drowned in reverb these days? It’s good here and there but it’s surely the most overused effect around at the moment. No, wait, I just thought about auto-tune. I guess it’s not so bad after all.

  2. Chris Bingo permalink
    February 14, 2011 8:09 pm

    Jason, you took the words straight out of my mouth. If Tapes N Tapes sound like a dozen bands I could name, then these guys sound like a hundred band I just outright refuse to listen to.

    There seems to be a dreadful habit of a lot of alternative bands coming out of the US in the last 2-3 years to try and sound as retro and almost Beach Boys-ee (I use that as a VERY loose example) as humanly possible.

    It all just drowns out into one horrificly long and boring track with a mix of mediocre and incredibly non-diverse vocalists scrambling over one-another to try and win the award for the most dreary and uninspired singing since Phil Collin’s did that Disney film that no-one cares about….or Allusion….or South Side Down…remember those guys??

    Anyway yeah, I really don’t like this style of music Robbie.

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