|Photo by: Pitchfork|
Key track: "Petition"
On their second album Young & Old, Tennis plant themselves in an already-crowded genre, landing somewhere on the throwback lo-fi indie-pop spectrum between Little Joy and Dum Dum Girls--with less charisma than the former and and less attitude than the latter. With that, they achieve a sound that is at least decent and at best agreeable.
The Denver band, which is comprised of married couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, along with drummer James Barone, recorded its sophomore album in Nashville with The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney at the helm; however, the Akronite left most of his edginess at home and toned it down for Tennis’ tame follow-up to their 2011 debut Cape Dory.
The disappointment of Young & Old is that it never deviates from the tone set by the opening track “It All Feels the Same,” the title of which is also a pretty accurate description of the album’s worst quality.
Tennis isn’t striking any new ground, especially with noncommittal and underwhelming lyrics such as the “Traveling” hook, “This must be rare / ‘Cause nothing else could compare / Not that I’m aware of.”
But even with their unoriginality, Tennis do take their sound a step beyond the predictable humming and strumming with Moore at the mic. Her melodic and capable vocals carry over the so-so tunes on the album, even pulling off an unabashedly radio-friendly chorus in “Petition” that sounds like something an overpaid songwriter-for-hire would pen for Britney Spears' or Jessica Simpson’s indie crossover hit.
With its generous synths, flowing guitar phrases and bouncy percussion all wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket of lo-fi feedback, Young & Old is a perfectly polite, acceptably dreamy and dulcet soundtrack to a perfume commercial--the kind of music you forget that you’re even listening to but don’t immediately want to turn off either.
Perhaps the best way to describe Young & Old is that it’s kind of like a beach-scented candle: It’s pleasant, it’s consistent, it’s serene, but it also blends in to the surroundings and it’s nothing anyone is going to get excited about.
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