Tennis seem to be the experts of shimmering, slightly hazy indie pop. Every time you hear a Tennis song you are transported to a very carefully crafted world as seen by Patrick RIley and Alaina Moore.
Titled Yours Conditionally, the album has many themes of love and monogamy, or more accurately tongue-in-cheek comments about them. The entire album encapsulates a thread of thought by the protagonist of this so-called love story. A woman wanting more from herself, and asking even more from her partner, and becoming bored with love quite often. A very sarcastic take on things.
The first track on the album, “In the Morning I’ll Be Better,” was the duo’s second single. It is a beautiful song with Moore’s true vocal ability on display with her harmonies sprinkled throughout. This song does a great job setting up the storyline of this blasé female persona. She is attempting to court someone with promises of a better life with her, and even with their hesitations to commit, in the morning everything will be better including her.
Following her through to “My Emotions Are Blinding,” this woman has begun convincing her partner she’ll give him everything he wants and that her divine nature as a female gives her this power over them, and that her love is binding. Tennis have really grasped at this 70s disco sound and ran with it, especially in this song. With a pre-chorus constructed in the same vein as ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love On Me,” Moore is able to take you to a certain world that seems as glamorous and as dramatic as the 1970s.
Later on in this storyline is, “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar,” the first single released in preparation for the new album. Probably one of the most catchy songs on the album, Moore’s voice goes in her typical high note ethereal direction, but for the verses she opts for a low, almost coo, trying to entice the listener, and the object of her desire–creating a mood of urgency. This woman is telling her new partner that she’ll be whatever they want her to be. All of this comes across rather campy, furthering the image of a siren just looking for love out of boredom.
The best song on the album, and the one that serves as a prime example of Moore’s writing ability is “Modern Woman.” Serving as the stories climax/plot twist perhaps, the protagonist in the song turns to her friend Kate, explaining to her she hasn’t been herself lately. She expresses feelings of regret and desire for affection. A good 3/4 of the songs is the same lyrics repeated over and over again, but that’s what I feel best conveys the emotion of the song.
“I think I might have made it real
I think I might have made it so real
I think I might have made it real, honey”
Instrumentally, Yours Conditionally relies heavily on the acoustic guitar. This might be rather unimpressive with another pretty established indie band, but it works in their favor completely. Riley’s compositions are simple and sexy. One of the best moments in regards to this on the album is the opening for “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar,” a simple stroke of the guitar and some light percussion really carry the mood of that track, and the rest of the album in my opinion.
Tennis have carefully curated their image and sound and on their latest effort it seems they have it down pat. Dreamy synth pop reminiscent of 1970s disco era, but with a melancholy undertone only the millennial age can understand.