FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2012 |
Posted by: Malcolm Donaldson
Part of Tennis' initial popularity was built upon their romantic origin-- the husband and wife duo went on a seven-month sailing adventure, and wrote a collection of breezy songs that reflected their voyage together. Similar to the myth of Bon Iver, the band's story paired well with their relaxed sound. But in their sophomore effort, Young and Old Tennis expands from the original duo and puts some heavy drums in the mix, adding the secret ingredient of Patrick Carney (Black Keys) as producer.
The product of Young and Old is a fairly good one, mostly because Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley's musical talents blend nicely with each other. Riley's telecaster and Moore's keyboard lay down the foundation for each song while Moore sings in her vocal comfort zone. Patrick Carney's addition is the most exciting aspect of this album, as he pushes the young bands potential to expand. The best moments on Young and Old are the heaviest, when it feels like the band is pushing from pop into rock. The guiding bass on "Petition" is something new that was for the most part absent on Cape Dory and it shows-- along with the great single "Origins"-- that Tennis is capable of more than just "breezy pop."
However, parts of the top-heavy album can be disappointingly similar. The beginning of "My Better Self" is a good example-- the first few measures of a distorted 16 beat are exciting, offering the potential for a new sound in the middle part of the album. But five seconds in, the same major-key pop progression sustains the next three minutes. If Tennis continues to progress in this direction they could make a great album full of powerful variation, but for now, it's still sailing along.