Album Reviews

Tennis – Cape Dory

Nikki Benson / January 19, 2011

Score: 7/10
Fat Possum
Purchase: Amazon, iTunes

An ultimate record transports the listener from their reality to the composer’s dream. Such is the case with Tennis’ debut album, Cape Dory. Tennis was born from two lovers (Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore) who wanted out of the modern world by way of a sailboat and 365 days at sea with no idea what lay in store. Riley and Moore came back with a new outlook on life, discovering they couldn’t express their experiences through any other medium than music. Cape Dory, with its stripped down, wide-eyed approach takes those with open ears and an open heart to a simpler time where agendas were minimal and concerns were few.

Tennis – “Marathon”

The albums cover sums up Cape Dory: sexy, retro, and aquatic. From track one, songs roll in like slow-rolling waves: none exactly like the last, but all very consistent.  Alaina Moore has the vocal quality of Cindy Lopper if she were a ’60s pop-star, and the guitar, bass, and drum work could have been cloned directly from The Beach Boys; “Long Boat Pass” has a similar music structure as “Don’t Worry Baby” by The Beach Boys, and the two songs could be played simultaneously without anyone noticing for the first few bars. This may be nothing new under the sun but what Tennis has cooked up is enjoyable.

The stories that are told throughout the album are short and sweet. Each song title gives clues, lighting the road map on Tennis’ journey. As excitement and elation naturally fade for those out at sea for an extended time, the album mirrors with its own mood dips. After the fast-paced “Marathon,” there is a hopelessness that shrouds “Bimini Bay”: “We’ve been gone for so very long/that we’ve forgotten where we are from.” Returning to hope, “South Carolina” is a song in better spirits. “Pigeon” is the slow dance for the blond girl with bangs and a ponytail, a poodle skirt, and Mary-Jane pumps. With a couple more beach-girl songs and another romantic dream, Tennis completes a strong album with “Waterbirds.” Alaina Moore sings truthfully on behalf of the lovers, “did we ever really leave/this is all that we need.”

On paper, it seems odd that such a personal project has advanced this far; there are thousands upon thousands of bands who have stories to tell. Tennis’ story is interesting, but there is something beautiful and magical about this couple and their quest for a simpler life that resonates on Cape Dory. The honesty and innocence is alluring, and the songs are pretty darn cute too.

(Right click, “Save Link As” to download) Tennis – “Marathon”

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