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Critical Voices: Tennis, Cape Dory
Escapism is a prevalent theme in today’s music scene (I’m looking at you, Katy Perry enthusiasts). But how many artists actually live out the messages of their songs about the teenage dream? Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the married couple who make up Tennis, are some of the few who do. After losing patience for their nine-to-five jobs in landlocked Denver, they sold all of their belongings to buy a sailboat and break for the eastern seaboard. During their eight months alone on the Atlantic coast, they decided to document their journey by writing music, which would later become their debut record, Cape Dory. However, this travelogue concept album would be nothing more than folly if its lo-fi dream pop did not capture their precious story.
The cover of Cape Dory—a doppelganger of ‘80s singer Lisa Hartman’s LP—hints at some of Tennis’s influences. Their minimalist rock is built around surf-guitar riffs and breezy melodies, but the true asset to Tennis’s sound is frontwoman Moore’s golden pipes. With simple harmonies, her voice perfectly bridges tropical rhythms with girl-group doo-wop.
Cape Dory’s ten tracks are vignettes of their voyage, often recounting their stops along the coast, like “Baltimore” or “South Carolina.” On “Marathon,” the album’s lead single, Moore shares the beautiful but eerie experience of their first time sailing at night over woozy keyboarding that breaks into a Best Coast-esque chorus. The beat of “Bimini Bay” pumps like a gently swaying boat, while Moore’s siren voice moves it with disarming beauty.
Tennis is wise to keep the record length just over 30 minutes—its songs don’t stray far from the same sleepy serenity and nautical poetry. After a few tracks, Riley’s guitar and Moore’s start to mesh together so much that it becomes difficult to discern between songs.
Even though Tennis arrives at a time when the market for retrofitted girl-band outfits is a little over-flooded, the abundance of competition doesn’t seem to hinder them too much. Filled with effortlessly dreamy sound and a unique story, Cape Dory is a voyeuristic peek into a couple’s sabbatical at sea that never loses its intimacy.
Voice’s Choices: “Marathon,” “Bimini Bay,” “Take Me Somewhere”