Tennis
Ritual In Repeat


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
September 20th, 2014 | 21 replies


Release Date: 09/09/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Aces.

Tennis has always been a band firmly planted in summer, with a ‘60s pop and ‘70s SoCal rock blend that fit tidily next to your Best Coast and Cults records in a dusty bin labeled “July,” or maybe “blog hype.” Hell, the story revolving around the creation of 2011’s Cape Dory, when the husband and wife duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley sold their possessions and embarked on a worldwide sailing rip, is the kind of cute love story you smile about in May and gag on in November. Ritual in Repeat is a bright, sparkling record, with the kind of fine-tuned production edges that come when you bring aboard Patrick Carney (Black Keys), Richard Swift (the Shins), and Jim Eno (Spoon) to assist. It builds on the higher fidelity and more muscular hooks of 2012’s smooth, salty Origins, resulting in the band’s most manicured effort yet. For a band with such sharp hooks and a uniquely flexible voice in Moore, these higher production values accentuate rather than diminish the charm. Ritual in Repeat, though, is the perfect album for that particular time of year when summer starts to fade into hues of gold and brown, work and cold.

In its irresistible Brill Building melodies and dreamy mix of doo-wop and indie pop, Ritual in Repeat is, indeed, another Tennis record, albeit the most lovingly crafted one yet. Yet in Moore’s vocals, now more front and center than ever before, there’s a stronger heart and a more reticent emotional core than previous efforts suggested. Where Cape Dory and (to a lesser extent) Origins often came off as delicate and fragile, occasionally collapsing because of their own insubstantiality, Ritual in Repeat is firm and confident. “Night Vision” thunders in on a foreboding drum rhythm and an almost druggy melody, before expanding like a sunburst into Moore’s effervescent chorus. In that hazy, lustful outro, though, it’s all Moore – “I knew all the love songs,” she sings wistfully, regret and nostalgia haunting every corner. The gentle, persistent tug of “Timothy” (the lone holdover from last year’s Small Sound EP) turns a surface-level love song into an unsettling portrait of despair and desperation; in what may be the record’s finest pastiche of classic pop, Moore practically begs for a person who is never going to stick along side a swooning melody. “Timothy, say something sweet to me / say it slowly until you believe / tell me that you find, increasingly / elements of merit within me,” she sings, before that final, paradoxically bouncy refrain arrives: “A hard heart will make a man blind / and a hard heart gets harder with time / it’s wrong, I know/ I can’t let go.”

There’s enough variety to showcase Moore as something more than a pretty voice. On the mid-‘80s Madonna homage of “It’s Callin’” she struts naturally and well, while the acoustic wisp of “Wounded Heart” features Moore in full Blue, her voice resonant and rich. The record’s most powerful moments, however, remain the songs where Moore’s evocative pipes are married to sonic and lyrical content that highlight her ability to tell a story on multiple layers. “Timothy;” the light dusting of scuzz on the guitar marring the upbeat “Solar On the Rise”; the slow burn and climactic twist of the knife in “Bad Girls,” where Moore takes a torch song and sets everything on fire – you can practically feel the sneer in Moore’s voice as she sings, tongue in cheek and voice soaring, “You know I love a good ceremony / that’s why I chose matrimony.” More telling is the lyric that immediately precedes it: “I’ll never find / I’ll never have any peace of mind / if it were physical it would show / if it were spiritual I would know.” With Ritual in Repeat, Tennis have crafted the most affecting record of their short career and purged the emptiness too often lurking behind the facade of similar artists, not to mention their own past work. It fits quite snugly into that time where summer turns into fall and dreams give way to reality.




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user ratings (28)
Chart.
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2014


11992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i am a sucker for this type of music but this is easily their strongest effort yet, for those who may not have been huge fans of Cape Dory.

Digging: Lucy Dacus - Historian

YourDarkAffected
September 20th 2014


1834 Comments


Attached song is really sweet. Thanks for the great find! Excellent review too.

Gyromania
September 20th 2014


26100 Comments


clever summary!

Aids
September 20th 2014


24456 Comments


I hate that they're called "Tennis" but I also think I'd like this a lot.

Fuck them though I aint listening

thatll show em

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2014


11992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

got em!

SeaAnemone
September 20th 2014


21407 Comments


I don't believe u

ExplosiveOranges
September 20th 2014


4408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yay, new Rudy review! This looks promising.

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 21st 2014


11992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nah start here. Origins isn't bad either

tommygun
September 21st 2014


26839 Comments


acquiring

good stuff rudeboy

Guzzo10
September 22nd 2014


1258 Comments


was expecting this to be another emo band with a sport as their name

chambered99
September 22nd 2014


889 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dis album p sweet doe

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2014


11992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's rare that i see a feldman endorsement thanks sam

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2014


7504 Comments


Rudy you be on fire this month =3

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2014


11992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks irv you should peep this

NorthernSkylark
September 22nd 2014


9037 Comments


is this even remotely as good as bloom?

edit: you have it as a 3, so nvm my phrazing

Digging: Calexico/Iron and Wine - In the Reins

BMDrummer
September 22nd 2014


14373 Comments


tennis is my faverite spert, and this is my faverite band

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2014


11992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm not a huge beach house fan, but the sound is similar. beach house is much more shoegazy though

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2014


7504 Comments


Did somebody say this sounds like Beach House

If so then count me in. Brb haha

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2014


7504 Comments


Double post - sorry!

RadicalEd
September 23rd 2014


9404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Whoever plays guitar in this band knows how to create some dope guitar lines. I like it.

Digging: KOAN Sound - Polychrome



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