Critical Voices: Tennis, Ritual In Repeat

September 11, 2014


With the sun still shining and term papers nowhere in sight, Tennis’s third studio album, Ritual in Repeat, is the perfect soundtrack to lazy Sundays on Copley Lawn. Ritual in Repeat is a continuation of  Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley’s brand of nostalgia-kissed indie-pop. This time, they show more maturity, while holding onto their characteristic candy-coated sound.

Tennis’s melodic dreaminess defines their music. While Riley’s instrumentals are bright and energetic, Moore’s vocals are airy and light, a cool breeze to accompany the warmth of the guitar and piano. Combining the lo-fi feeling and lyrical simplicity, tracks like “A Needle and a Knife” come off as 1950s female group throwbacks. Moore layers her vocals to create retro harmonies, which mix with the disco-influenced percussion for a finger-snapping tune that is enthusiastic without ever sounding coerced.

In each of the songs on the album, Moore sounds sweet and girlish, occasionally to a fault. Lackluster cooing pervades the album, making most of her murmurs over lost love seem fairly trite. But when she brings her full vocal capability to a track, we receive gems such as “Bad Girls,” an evocative ballad where Moore sings with impressive energy and soul. It’s clear from the addition of these more nuanced tracks scattered throughout album that the band is growing and developing their sound.

Though Tennis is a premium example of infectious indie-pop, perfectly tailored to summery days and good moods, their pleasant sound continues to be their greatest limitation. Ritual in Repeat will satisfy your sweet tooth and have you humming along for the next week, yearning for the last golden days of summer. But if depth and complexity are what you crave, you may opt to wait for their next LP in the hopes that Tennis will outgrow its sugar-soaked monotony.


Voice’s Choices: “Bad Girls,” “Never Work for Free”


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