As someone completely out of touch with the world of sports, I thank the gods of entertainment for minimalist pop duo Tennis
, whose name has brought me as close to the court as I ever need to be. The Denver-based bands album Ritual in Repeat
is out today on Communion, and it is anything but repetitive.
Singer Alaina Moore is a superstar. Her vocals range from Breeders-era Kim Deal in "Night Vision" to sultry Lana Del Rey in "Solar on the Rise." In between, she delivers completely diverse performances, from Best Coast
-sounding surf pop in "This Isn't My Song" to the dreamy Cyndi Lauper-esque "Never Work For Free" and the spooky-but-pretty Vashti Bunyan vibe of "Wounded Heart." Basically, Moore has absorbed the best parts of infectious pop music from the last five decades and spread it evenly over the course of eleven songs.
Instrumentally, Ritual in Repeat
is not extraordinary. Guitarist Patrick Riley (Moore's husband) is a fine musician, but the focus is Moore's voice from start to finish. The one exception may be "Needle and a Knife," which features a lovely guitar hook and impossible-not-to-clap-along drums. Still, "Never Work for Free" is the albums high point and first single, and it's all about Moore. She so confidently sings "Fell in love with a traveling man/Gonna make him mine, do whatever I can" over insanely catchy backing vocals that will get stuck in your head before the first chorus ends.
Tennis has done something awesome here. Sure, the music itself is incredibly simple and the lyrics don't exactly explore the depths of human emotion. But Ritual in Repeat
is exactly as carefree and diverse as a pop album should be in 2014. And seriously, "Never Work for Free" will be stuck in your head until you die.