Given how Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore introduced themselves as Tennis with 2011’s Cape Dory, it was easy to wonder if it was a glorious fluke. The college sweethearts had married, bought a yacht and set sail down the Eastern Seaboard for seven months, then returned to Colorado to write about it. There’s only so many times you can pull off something like that to fuel the writing process. But three albums in, it’s clear Tennis and their gorgeous brand of sunshine pop are here to stay.
As the title perhaps suggests, they remain true to their roots on Ritual In Repeat. They worked with a host of different producers here – the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, Richard Swift and, on the fuzzy ‘Bad Girls’ Spoon’s Jim Eno, but rather than confuse the picture, it only adds variety. There is a strong nod to the 80s, plenty of 60s influence, but mostly just solid pop songs with a timeless feel. Even with a strong sense of nostalgia they keep their modernity, and there are obvious comparisons to the likes of Beach House, another blinding pop duo. ‘Timothy is a majestic sing-along, while the gorgeous ‘Viv Without The N’ is the highlight of this feel-good record, which transports you to a festival field long before the summer actually arrives.
It’s a brilliant slice of the summer – so much so you wonder if this is the reason the UK release has been delayed several times to come out now, more than six months after it appeared in the US – but let’s just be glad it arrived at all. The finest moments here compete with the kings and queens of pop music. Sure, the entire record doesn’t hit such peaks, but at its best it’s sublime.