In that age of mimicry and blatant rip offs, Tennis are the ideal Beach Boys comparison. Replicating that phenomenal sound heard on Pet Sounds is a hard task to complete. Tennis obviously fall short and make themselves look pathetic in the process. Mixed with Best Coast and The Drums, Tennis fill that Indie Pop/Surf Rock corner of hipsterdom. At least Tennis have a reason why they have this sound. Every song is about husband/wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moores journey travelling the seas on a Cape Dory boat. They named themselves Tennis when Alaina made fun of Patrick for playing (the sport) Tennis. She must have a cold sense of humour for making fun of somebody who plays tennis... Jesus.
At under 30 minutes long, it's hard to grasp everything Tennis gives. Sure, it's sweet twee music, but it doesn't glisten on the stereo system. 'Take Me Somewhere' opens in traditional indie pop fashion. It has a fashionable distorted guitar riff with female harmonic vocals in the background and lead twinkling vocals by Alaina. This song does actually improve as it progresses. The back half is much more funkier and has such a great crescendo. The lyrics follow experiences between the duo whilst travelling off the coast of USA.
'Long Boat Pass' has the same production style and general compactness as the previous. This becomes a problem when listening to this album (over and over and over and over). With it being under 30 minutes, something needs to grab the listeners attention otherwise the whole album becomes meaningless. This album is pretty much meaningless to me. Fair enough, they have a nice bunch of songs about their experiences, but keep it to yourself. If I wanted to hear this kind of music, you know.. Surf rock, then I have The Beach Boys back catalogue that I'd happily listen to when I'm in the mood for some tracks about love and the sea.
The title track has a nice opening segment with some nice sounding reverb on the guitar and sparse sounding drumming. Alaina sings fresh with great dynamics. The drum kit really kicks in with the hard hitting electric guitar but the bass really takes effect in this song. I've listened to this track many times over the past year and it just goes right over my head. The following track called 'Marathon' also has the same affect. It has a soulful sound but doesn't grab me in any way. It's just not original and I don't want to be hearing this kind of instrumental in 2011. The one thing that annoys me the most is people labelling Tennis 'cute'.
'Bimini Boy' can be summed up with one word, bland. On a 10 track album under 30 minutes, the last thing you want is a song to drag on. Bimini Boy just sounds frail and unfragmented. 'South Carolina' is a drastic improvement. It has a nice vintage-esque guitar sound and a lovely poppy chorus. Don't get me wrong here, I think Tennis know how to record music and compose a delicate pop song. I just dislike the idea and how they've gone about creating this album.
Early 60's flare echoes in the 'slow dance' track called 'Pigeon'. The single noted rhythms shine through this track like a bright star. I think it's the strongest track on the album and by far the most musically indulging. It has a Delicious organ riff which strike throughout the song on the later third, great to hear. 'Seafarer' sounds far more energetic because of the previous slow track. it's a typical indie song with standard instrumentation and singing.
'Baltimore' actually fails to amuse me even slightly. The guitar sound is overused and the vocal style just doesn't work with the ever changing bass notes. The final track is far more melodic than anything else the band's released up to Cape Dory. 'Waterbirds' has a lovely little vocal harmony and has some sweet sounding bass. The guitar work changes and progresses as the song eventually smashes and reaches for the volume.
it would be wrong of me to criticise the album based on the album cover, but look at that thing. It's just plain awful. That 50's/60's vibe is just taken away by what seems to be a Madonna impersonation from the 80's... Anyway. So the album isn't exactly the freshest thing to come out in recent years and it's not the longest, fastest or lyrically viable. However, I can hear some tiny little pieces if excellent guitar work, vocal work and song structure, so it isn't all bad. It just fails to keep my attention.