Tennis – Cape Dory (Carmen San Diego Records)

May 31, 2011 by  

Ahoy! When husband and wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore bought a sailboat, packed their bags and left behind their home in Colorado for an eight-month voyage on the open sea, no-one would have guessed that it would be the start of a (kind of) promising career in music.

Every element of ‘Cape Dory” comes heavily distilled and filtered through a thick lens of nostalgia. From the overall girl-group pop sound to the record cover and choice of font, even their name (Tennis hit its peak of popularity in the 70s) are all throwbacks to the 1970s and 80s.

Their songs document those months they spent on the water and their maritime adventures with a dose of heavy yearning for a by-gone era.

Album opener “Take Me Somewhere” is full of melodic coos and surfy guitar chords washing ashore somewhere between The Beach Boys and The Drums. The track pines for the pre-rock era of dreamy, innocent high school flings, drive-in cinemas and classic American diners.

Album highlight “Marathon” personifies Tennis and all of their nostalgia perfectly. Alaina Moore soothes the surf twang of her partner’s guitar with ooh-oohs by the bucket load. The breaks between the girl-group vocals and guitar expose the duo for exactly that. While other partnerships may have seen this as a weakness, Tennis uses the space to capture a sense of isolation and emptiness, just what they must have been feeling on their eight-month adventure.

Tennis offer to take you away from the nine to five drone of the rat race, letting you escape all of your problems and worries, but they promise too much.

While infectious lo-fi pop melodies flood through “South Carolina” and “Baltimore” buzzes and groans with aching guitar chords, the album can border on dull in places. While the boppy, care-free hooks sound idilic at the beginning, after a lot more of the same the album can leave you feeling the pressure of cabin fever – perhaps a little too much indulgence from the couple from Colorado?

Like a toned down, chilled out White Stripes, Tennis touch on something special and if you are a fan of 70s high-school dance pop or just fancy a vacation for your ears then give “Cape Dory” a listen.

[rating:3.5]


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