It’s hard to believe that husband and wife duo Tennis have been around a decade. Since their debut album Cape Dory in 2011, they’ve always had an independent spirit that seemed to fuel their sound. Now with their new album Swimmer they’ve kept that independence going strong while offering some of the best songwriting of their career.
To be fair Swimmer is essentially a pop album. Of the nine tracks, most have plenty of hooks and catchy melodies that make anyone who hears it realize that it’s pop music. But where it steers from modern pop places it leaps and bounds ahead of the youthful pop we hear today. The songs are structured in a way that sounds closest to the pop music made in the seventies and eighties. The instrumentation is perfectly balanced throughout, making you realize that Tennis doesn’t really have any contemporaries. The closest you can get to what it would remind you of, is if you hear the song “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John. It’s not that the duo sounds the same vocally, but the music is close to that sound.
The opening track “I’ll Haunt You” stands out because it’s pinned between a darkness and a ghostly tone. The piano has an orchestral feel before the vocals come in with this tender sound. When the beat drops the darker tones wash away as the song opens up with a meatier structure. This is how a lot of the tracks play out on Swimmer. “How to Forgive” has R&B notations, “Echoes” is an upbeat bop that never loses its playfulness and “Late Night” has this glorious build that pays off when it pops off.
But of the songs we were most mesmerized by “Need Your Love.” Though one of the lead singles, the progressions alone are on another level. Bathed in that seventies pop sheen, the song has these drums and key strokes that dance between the hook based vocals and guitar noodles. The strength comes on the chorus where the track changes tempo and really breathes before heading back to the catchy stride it began with. It’s impressive songwriting and even stronger placement. It’s the shining light on an album full of beaming glow, proving that Tennis is just getting better with age.
Swimmer is available directly from the Tennis web store. It can be streamed or downloaded from all digital platforms. Tennis is on tour beginning February 25 in Kansas City, MO at Madrid Theatre until May 09 in Saint Louis, MO at Delmar Hall. The band’s complete tour schedule is located here.
Image Credits: Photo by Annie Dressner.