When the husband-wife duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore decided to buy a sailboat and escape to the ocean for a year, they had no intention of restarting their musical careers.
Something about the solitude of that journey inspired them enough to pick their instruments back up and record a full album detailing their adventure. Cape Dory is the result, and it resembles nothing less than a sunny day and an endless ocean.
Taking large bouts of inspiration from ‘60s girl bands, Tennis is about as retro as pop music can possibly sound.
There’s washy harmonies, swaying walls of noise and relaxed energy, all led by the warm refrains of Moore. It is an infectiously cheery album, almost forcing the listener to smile at its unwaveringly blissful sound.
While it is an undeniably joyful album to listen to, it faces the limitations of all surf revival bands in that there is virtually zero stylistic variation. The melodies and rhythms were done the exact same more than 40 years ago, so at this point it seems unnecessary to rehash an already established sound.
At some level, this void of originality is forgiven — Tennis pulls off that ‘60s vibe of laid-back optimism with a perfect level of precision. One could inconspicuously place tracks like “Take Me Somewhere” and “Bimini Bay” among the early Beach Boys recordings.
Style should never be copied, but if it is, it is vital that you copy it well to achieve any kind of legitimacy. Tennis is incredibly successful at this and so the pair has most likely achieved what they wanted to do with Cape Dory.
It seems Tennis had no goals of breaking any sort of musical ground here, so to criticize them for not grasping any originality seems a little arbitrary. Yet there is obviously talent laden within this album, and it appears fitting to hope for Tennis’ eventual musical maturation.
If Tennis actually took the time to develop a unique sound, they could have the capacity to create a serious stir in music. While it is easy to ask for more from Tennis, it is even easier to forgive and get caught up in the mellow euphoria of Cape Dory.