Monday, February 13, 2012

Album Review: Tennis - Young & Old

Album Rating: B-
Husband and wife duo Tennis seems to have trouble giving their albums fitting release dates. For the second year in a row, the group has released a full length in the cold of winter. For being a band whose debut was based on experiences during a sailing expedition, winter just seems like the entirely wrong season to release a record. But while Cape Dory barely lasted in peoples' minds by the time the leaves appeared on the trees, the improvements in Young & Old should allow the record to finally last until beach towels go on to the sand and community pools are filled with families waiting to cool off from the blistering sun.

First single "Origins" is easily the best track on the album, and also the best distinguisher of the new instrumental based style that Tennis has adapted. The bellowing saxophone line contrasts everything that Tennis has done to date, but it perfectly complements Moore's sweet and finally substantial vocals. The chorus is one of the more memorable portions of a track that Tennis has ever released, and the song has the potential to end up on plenty of end of year lists.

The biggest reason for Tennis' easier survival through the wintery cold is the warmer, more thorough production. Cape Dory's production was too light to give the album a sense of fullness, and it held back Alaina Moore's sweet vocals from being anything more than fluff.  Thankfully, Patrick Carney of The Black Keys' fame has helped soup up the overall sound of the record, as the instrumentals factor in much more predominantly in Young & Old. This aids the record from becoming dull and monotonous as Cape Dory was, while stretching Tennis' sound past simple beachy indie pop to slightly more creative territory.

As with Cape Dory, the album runs together other than the standout track ("Take Me Somewhere" on Cape Dory). But the improved instrumentaiton and production make that running together somewhat enjoyable rather than overly boring. Pretty much every aspect from Cape Dory is much improved, as it's easy to find a song on the album that features a part stronger than any part of the debut. While Young & Old may not be the record of the year, or even a consideration for one of the best, it should be the perfect beachside record. Just as sitting out in the sun for too long will cause sunburn, listening to this record too much will make it a stale listen. But listen to it in moderation, and it should be perfectly bronzed.

Album Stream

Track List:
01. It All Feels The Same
02. Origins
03. My Better Self
04. Traveling
05. Petition
06. Robin
07. High Road
08. Dreaming
09. Take Me To Heaven
10. Never To Part

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