Tennis’ story is one for the die-hard romantics, a charming tale of love, escape and adventure. It reads like the foundations of a Hollywood rom-com (you’ll have to insert your own slapstick mishaps between songs, mind) that should have you wretching into a bucket of half-eaten popcorn, sickly sweet as it is, but somehow manages to avoid ending with any undesirable messes.
Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley left their home in Denver and set sail around the North Atlantic coast for 8 months, just the two of them. Sounds like enough to derail any couple – married or otherwise – but apparently not this one. Instead of returning utterly repulsed by the mere thought of the other, Tennis came home with an album’s worth of songs documenting their experiences at sea and sounding enviably loved up, despite having spent the best part of a year cooped up on a mini yacht.
And how idyllic they make that time sound. Cape Dory is awash with summery sea shanties, painting pictures of a paradisal expedition with soft focus arrangements and a glistening nostalgia for an era of girl groups and Phil Spector. But whilst, musically, there’s nothing with the record, the oohs, aahs and peppy optimism feel overfamiliar and unoriginal – pleasant enough but nothing to get the heart racing. The special thing about Tennis’ debut isn’t their ability to mimic the past (although they sure are good at it), but their dazzling lyrics, like the jaw-droppingly irresistible “crystalline water with manta-ray shine” of ‘Take Me Somewhere’ or “we didn’t realise the forecast had been revised, and moonless skies and shifty wind that gusts and dies” of ‘Marathon’.
Without the poeticisms like the aforementioned, Cape Dory would be merely mediocre; ten tracks of sunny 60s pop that would be forgotten by autumn. As it is, thanks to Tennis’ way with words, at least it might still be remembered next summer.
Release date: 16th May 2011