REVIEW: Tennis – Young & Old

For me, summer is the best time of year; filled with sunny days at the beach, hanging out with close friends. So for a band to be able to evoke the feelings associated with said season even at the coldest times of year is, obviously, a good thing. Husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley formed Tennis after spending a good 8-months sailing around the world. Naturally, they felt the need to express the experience through song, which eventually comprised last year’s debut album Cape Dory; a modern day fairy tale in the alt-music world.

Tennis are back with a decidedly less nautical-themed sophomore release, Young and Old. For the follow-up, the production was handled by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney. Much like the recent new Perfume Geniusalbum, they took the opportunity to expand on their sound. As part of the recent ‘beach-pop’ craze started by acts such as Best Coast and Beach HouseTennis create breezy, up-beat and altogether jolly tunes that will uplift even the most morose of people. The sugar-coated aesthetics drip with charm, but does the album do enough to establish itself among the greats?

Young and Old is definitely a step-up from the debut, with Moore handling vocal responsibilities with a more defined, self-confident tone. Her airy vocals have a very classic style to them, and they suit the music well. The retro style of the album gives it a nostalgic feel that is exactly what you’d expect from a couple such asTennis. The entire premise of the album is grounded very much in the 60’s; it’s what the album title ‘Young and Old‘ alludes to.

Lyrically, Moore sings dreamy and whimsical words that predictably deal with themes of love and romance primarily. This time they lack a core concept to focus on (like the seafaring nature of Cape Dory), so the album feels a lot more abstract. This lack of focus makes it all seem a lot less affecting – instead it relies on the charming melodies that pervade every surface of the album to keep your attention.

Tennis have ventured outside of the set-up they had on Cape Dory, implementing percussion on the tracks with more effectiveness than the debut. This isn’t to say that they’ve strayed too far from the foundations they set out in the first place; it still has the fuzzy production values found previously, but they have been fine tuned somewhat to give the record an all-round more pleasing aesthetic. Piano keys are also more widely featured on Young and Old, diversifying the tracks further than the original and giving it a poppier feel.

As indicated by the kind of adjectives used thus far, you can assume that the album is a very happy one; maybe even overly happy. Every track has the same atmosphere to them, it’s like the band are incapable of creating anything except sweet, loved-up songs. It’s understandable, really, with Tennis being a couple who are so comfortable with one another to create music together. It would just be nice to see the music take a different tone on the album.

Much like a hazy, care-free summer’s afternoon, Young and Old is a fleeting and enjoyable affair, but it struggles to truly define itself against all the other records that are in a similar vein to it. And like even the best of summer days, you eventually grow tired of them and long for the winter again. Still, you can always look back on it with fond memories.

7/10
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