Beginning life as a chronicle of a summer on board a yacht way back in 2011, Tennis, comprising husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, return with their forth LP of sun soaked songs tinged with sadness, Yours Conditionally. The old saying is ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, and Tennis seem to have hit upon a winning combination here.
The album begins brightly with ‘In the Morning I’ll be better’, which sees Moore laconically sing about ‘wrapping myself around/you where we cant be found/I’ll hide you from the world/until we are forgotten’, all to the sound of an insistent drum beat and some jangly keyboard playing. If it sounds like I’m doing the track a disservice, I’m not. It is the very definition of an ear-worm, and the infectious ‘ahhhhs’ and ‘ohhhhs’ from the backing vocals seem destined to squirrel their way into listeners’ brains.
With an arched eyebrow, Moore and Riley have produced a piece of social commentary on ‘Ladies don’t Play Guitar’. Played like an R’n’B track, rather ironically, there are no guitars on this record, and the lyrics see Moore suggesting that all ladies should ‘maybe play pretend’ lest they be subject to ‘complicate the future of your [the male ‘your’] progeny’. It is perhaps the strongest track, lyrically, on Yours Conditionally, and works as a piece of high art.
The rest of the record, without being disparaging, drifts by in a pleasant haze. This is a record tailor made to be enjoyed in the outdoors, providing a backdrop to summery social events, and this is no bad thing in itself. Tennis have proven they are capable of writing songs with a bit of bite, and with catchy hooks, and a few more of these on Yours Conditionally would have given the record greater depth. Nonetheless, you’ll be humming a few of these for days, and in terms of pop songs, there is no greater commendation than that.