For today’s indie bands, the risk of drowning in a sea of synthesizers and hipster criticism is all too real. Any wrong move results in uncompromising irrelevance, which is followed by the immediate rise of another, similar band to fill the void. Luckily, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the husband/wife duo that makes up Tennis, have not succumbed to this fate. A career that began on a seven-month sailing expedition along the eastern coast of the United States has begun to blossom into a powerful act which attracted the likes of the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who produced the more professional Young and Old.
Many of the songs about sailing and the adorable spousal inside jokes of their previous album, last year’s Cape Dory, disappear from Young and Old, which does little to maintain the themes of love that dominated the debut LP. Tracks like “Traveling” still embody the worldly romanticism that flowed throughout Cape Dory, but Young and Old as a whole moves inland from the group’s first album. The new LP begins with “It Feels the Same,” which Moore kicks off by crooning that she “took a train to get to you” and ends describing her loss of interest in a romantic relationship. This song sets the tone for most of the record, which appears to be the flip side of Cape Dory in terms of lyrical theme—romantic images and anecdotes from the eastern seaboard give way to melancholy musings about unrequited love and loss of innocence. On the drum-driven “High Road,” for instance, Moore repeats, “Paradise is all around/ But happiness is never found.”
Musically, too, Tennis has expanded its horizons. Rather than continuing the beach-pop of their debut album, the group moves towards a more heavy reliance on Riley’s guitar and Moore’s more prevalent keyboard lines, particularly noticeable on “Origins.” The addition of drummer James Barone provides an additional percussive and rhythmic element that was missing from Cape Dory.
While Young and Old is a departure from the themes that made the group’s first LP a modest success, it emerges as an enjoyable record, displaying the duo’s noticeable versatility and immense potential for further hits. For a band that quite literally started out at sea, Tennis has finally found its harbor in an indie pop sound.
Voice’s Choices: “It All Feels The Same,” “Origins”