Moody and broody songstresses, a la Adele and Lana Del Rey, are a hot commodity in commercial music these days. On their own, they glamourize some dark part of the 1960s that has escaped our memories (or rather, or parents' memories) with their woeful lyrics about lost love and the sadness that emanates through their bouffant hairstyles and winged eyeliner.
For whatever reason the pseudo-'60s babe prototype is “in” right now. There is, however, one woman in modern music whose voice and style sure fit the mold, but she refuses to pine and sulk in her songs. Alaina Moore's melodies are more bubbly and twee, and she joined forces with her husband, Patrick Riley, to create a true lo-fi, retro sound that blows the phonies out of the water.
The duo dubbed themselves Tennis and released their first album, “Cape Dory,” in 2011. The disc was created from the aftermath of the couple's seven-month long sailing expedition, and the inspiration is obvious in the jangly, surf-rock guitar and sea-soaked lyrics.
Each tune feels like the soundtrack to a '60s vacation film or that episode of “The Brady Bunch” where they go to Hawaii. There is no melodic crying about a breakup in Moore and Riley's music – it's pure laid-back fun, like the beginning of a summer fling or eating an ice cream cone.
Wasting no time at all, Tennis released its second album, “Young & Old,” in February of this year. The band recorded the disc in Nashville with Patrick Carney of The Black Keys, who introduced lush, velvety drums and heavy bass to the band's formerly sparse sound.
The sophomore album's bluesy qualities add more of an edge to Moore's sugary sweet melodies. The sound is richer, but the band's signature lo-fi aesthetic remains intact, and the doo-wop harmonies and swinging beats are not lost. On tracks like “Take Me To Heaven,” Moore showcases her lower register, channeling sultry Dusty Springfield notes along with a tidal wave of cymbals and distorted guitars.
The band has been making the late-night TV circuit this week and last and is currently touring along the west coast to promote “Young & Old.” Although the release contains lyrical subject matter a little more wistful than “Cape Dory,” Tennis' sound is far from dark and sad. Rather, it is simply music to get lost in and daydream to.