The husband and wife duo of Tennis could have easily become a gimmick. Its debut LP, Cape Dory, is a nostalgic love letter to the eight months the couple spent sailing the Eastern Seaboard. Tennis could have continued the nautical theme for as long as it saw fit, eventually becoming “that sailing band.” But luckily, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley expand their sound and stay on dry land for their second album titled Young And Old on Fat Possum.
While the lyrical themes have changed, the same ’60s surf-pop from Cape Dory shows up on this album. Although there is a noticeable difference. With production assistance by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, Tennis makes more of a lasting, edgy impression with Young And Old. The drums have a louder pound and the fuzzy guitar has more force behind it. In addition, the band adds more instrumentation to the tracks, including a saxophone and piano to create extremely catchy hooks. This transition to a Camera Obscura-like aesthetic suits Moore and Riley as it beefs up their sound and showcases their adaptability. But not to worry, Moore hasn’t lost her vocal influences: “Do-do-do’s” and “Ooooh’s” continue to punctuate the album in a way that would make the Shirelles proud.
Young And Old is still an introspective album, though. It’s just that the narrative isn’t as easy to pick up on. On the bluesy “Origins,” Moore lays it all out on the first line, “Sensitive heart, you’re doomed from the start”—a far-cry from the dreamy ideas on Cape Dory. Moore continues to look inward on “My Better Self,” a soft, soothing piece where she ponders about why things are the way they are. Rather than one unifying theme, Young And Old is more concerned with getting you acquainted with Tennis.
It’s only been a little over a year since Tennis released Cape Dory, an album that originally wasn’t even intended for the public. Perhaps Moore and Riley churned out Young And Old as soon as they could to prove that they were more than just a cute idea. If so, they succeeded. Young And Old is a confident, solid indie pop album that builds on the band’s previous sound. Whether Tennis is on the water or on land for its next album, good things are ahead for the two.