Teaming up with the Black Keys’ Patrick Riley in a real Nashville studio, Tennis returns with a sophomore release that retains Cape Dory’s time machine rust while opening up the fidelity a bit to give the band — now a three piece with the inclusion of drummer James Barone — more depth, warmth, and a better window on Alaina Moore’s impressive vocals.
But what’s even more impressive is how the band, in less than a year’s time, has managed to deliver another 10 track record of consistently good dream pop, hinting that the debut was far from a fluke.
Moore alternates from Northern Soul to good ol’ Brill Building charm in such an underhanded way that it’s easy to overlook how uniquely good her talents are. Producer Riley wisely un-clutters her performance by scaling back on the reverb while leaving plenty of old-school vocal distortion, harking back to a time when the power of the human voice could still manage to show the inadequacies of the engineering staff.
Anyone looking for revelation within Young & Old is missing the point. It presents itself as a pop record as learned through transistor radios, forgoing the nautical themes of Cape Dory for an unpretentious attempt at making a straight-forward gem built from our everyday surroundings.
That means lots of introspection from a husband and wife duo that are starting to notice that the honeymoon is over, and that romance has been replaced by a harsh reality that their combined efforts are now a career endeavor.
There are moments of confounding lyrics, but then again, what pop record isn’t littered with freshman poetry or, even worse, middle school texting. Personally, I find a lot more things relatable to this married couple and respond a lot quicker when their life is packaged in this spontaneous and charming dream pop bundle.
Young & Old is the perfect pop record for suburban adults who want to recall the days of their downtown lofts.