Young & Old, Tennis, Fat Possum Records, 14 February 2012
Young & Old is the second record from the Denver couple who met in college and fell for one another, forming a band. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley’s first record, Cape Dory, chronicled their sailing voyage around the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard. It’s difficult not to speculate: are they still in pie-eyed love?
Young & Old is certainly a darker record than Cape Dory. Underneath the sunny lightness of Alaina Moore’s gossamer vocals something darker gathers. Musically there’s still the fresh-faced high school romance running through the album, from ‘It All Feels the Same’ to ‘Never to Part’, but this time around Moore’s vocals convey a studied disinterest, a detachment that causes a shiver down the listener’s spine. There’s another layer to the stories Tennis are telling us on this collection of songs.
‘Dreaming’ has the sass of Rilo Kiley, yet with Moore’s vocals draped limp over the otherwise rousing rhythm the song becomes off-kilter and more intriguing. Tennis are mastering the knack of making un-easy listening. There is angst here, but angst so gently applied that the girls are are left with the sense that something, somewhere, is not quite right. Are Tennis teasing us? ‘Origins’ kicks off, lilting and purposeful and is the most dance-inciting song on the album, but Patrick Riley’s surf guitar threatens a rip tide and Moore sings about the consequences of another generation’s mistakes.
Young & Old is a more ambitious record in its musical and lyrical scope than their career opener Cape Dory. Tennis still draw upon the vast variety of America’s pop heritage and pass it through a lo-fi filter. It’s a pretty record, and it throws up more questions than it answers. Listen to Young & Old on a train to the seaside on a sunny day but make sure to pack your umbrella: the weather could still get nasty.
Tennis are touring exhaustively this spring. Let the girls are know where you’re seeing them play and what you think of their lo-fi surf pop.