In January 2011, the music community fell in love with husband-wife duo Tennis. Cape Dory, their debut LP inspired by their honeymoon sailing voyage up the East Coast, was ripe with foot-tapping surf rock. Made with equal parts camp and smart musicianship, the album was a clean, final flourish to the beach-inspired bands that dominated 2010. Cape Dory, which kept winter months warm and bouncy, was an endearing introduction to Tennis, and it made them an earlier frontrunner for our favorite music couple of this decade.
Set for a Valentine’s Day release, Tennis’ second LP takes a step away from beach party anthems. Young & Old shows a band that has very much grown into its sound; in fact, at first impression the band is only recognizable from Alaina Moore’s reedy soprano. After multiple listens, it still stands that Tennis has veered from the delicate compositions of Cape Dory, replacing them with a bigger, louder sound. This new-found grit can be attributed to production work from The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney. Carney’s signature garage fuzz gives their saccharine tendencies a little bit of crunch.
The guitar lick that opens the first track “It All Feels the Same” sounds like a rehashing of the more subdued songs on Cape Dory. But the song slowly builds into a punchier, sassier version of the band, aided by power chords and snappy drums that were nearly nonexistent before. The wheeling, spastic sound of the electric Wurlitzer organ has also become an integral part of the band, with clunky lines leading tracks such as “Traveling” and “High Road.”
The biggest shift with Young & Old is its straightforward demeanor. Where the songs on Cape Dory ebbed and flowed much like the waves that inspired them, this album seems to have a clear focus and avoids drifting. Even “Dreaming,” a title that evokes a shimmery, loose soundtrack, largely pops along in a straight line, barring its organ-led wanderings on the bridge. This new focus suits the band, as there is not a weak song on Young & Old, but the album lacks that standout hit that Cape Dory had in “Marathon.”
Young & Old is not intended as a betrayal to the lovesick fans of the first album. Although the beach theme of 2010 has passed (for now), Tennis managed to keep the elements that endeared them so readily to audiences, but the pair altered their sand-and-sun elations enough to remain relevant. While the honeymoon period may be over for Tennis, its necessary maturation will give them more room to grow outside of the shore.
Tennis – Young & Old tracklist:
- “It All Feels the Same”
- “My Better Self”
- “High Road”
- “Take Me to Heaven”
- “Never to Part”