Tennis' Cape Dory: a fresh feel of warmth during wintry woes

    The husband-and-wife team that makes up Tennis. Photo courtesy of Fat Possum Records.

    In the hype of alternative hip-hop and experimental electro (dubstep, anyone?), Tennis’ sunshiny surf pop is a breath of fresh air. The story behind the husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley is just as sweet as their music: the two met in college and spent two years sailing along the eastern coastline, during which time they crafted nautically-inspired tracks for their prior 7-inch release as well as their debut full-length, Cape Dory, out Tuesday.

    The band’s late 20th-century influence is evident from its faded promo photos to Cape Dory’s tongue-in-cheek cover art of a vintage fashion editorial. In the album, Moore’s lo-fi vocals shine through the bed of reverb-heavy guitars and light clap-clap drum accents reminiscent of 70s beach rock. The result contains traces of Best Coast’s brightness and touches of Cults’ whimsicality.

    The album presents a very cohesive aesthetic, but each track also showcases unique differences. “Seafarer” is close to surf rock roots with echoing guitars and a solid bassline, decked out with charming vocal harmonies. “Pigeon” is one of the three ballads on the album and has a laidback 80s appeal, complete with doo-doo-doo-wah vocals. The track is similar to the beat and harmonies of The Morning Bender’s “Excuses.”

    The most infectious track is definitely “Marathon,” also featured on the band’s 7-inch in late 2010. The short keys riff throughout the track hooks the listener in directly at the beginning. Combine that with Moore’s flowing vocals and a driving beat, and you’ll be humming this tune for some time to come.

    The 10-track album keeps things short and sweet, with most of their tracks clocking in at under three minutes. Perfect for easy listening, Tennis’ Cape Dory is a relaxing, sunny escape from the doldrums of bitter winter.

    Tennis plays Lincoln Hall on February 22 with Holiday Shores and Porcelain Raft. Tickets for the 18+ show are $12.


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