The pop duo Tennis, which consists of couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, have always had a knack for pristine pop sounds. From breezy sunburnt pop of their debut Cape Dory to more 70s singer/songwriter fare of Young & Old to the more synth/dream pop fare of Yours Conditionally, the main thru line in the Tennis canon is catchy, emotional pop music. Music that puts you in a very specific place and headspace. Songs perfect for a breakup or a makeup.
On Tennis’ newest album titled Swimmer, the Denver duo make a hit single for every decade. Swimmer combines all of Tennis’ musical loves onto one big vibe-y album. 80s synth pop? Check. 70s piano grooves? Check. Heart-on-sleeve earnestness? Check. Swimmer has it all, including some of the best songs Moore and Riley have written.
Swimmer has its origins in worry and tragedy, but its ultimately a record filled with love and hope. A health scare with singer Alaina Moore during an important tour in 2017 was followed by the death of Patrick Riley’s father. Despite the scare and death, this is an album of thankfulness and appreciating what we have instead of what we’ve lost. in Alaina’s words, “Swimmer is a tour of the darkest time in our lives. But it is not a dark record. Named for the feeling of suspension and upendedness that characterized this period, it is the story of deep-rooted companionship strengthened by pain and loss.”
Highlights here include the piano and drum-driven “Need Your Love”. The raw production, engaging piano, and in-your-face drums combined with Moore’s captivating vocal performance gives this track a classic feel. Think the Carpenters and the best Christine McVie tracks from Fleetwood Mac. Title track “Swimmer” has a dreamy quality to it, beautifully loping rhythm and layered vocal harmonies put the track in Cocteau Twins territory. “Runner” also has that Cocteau Twins vibe, but with more of an eary 2010s synth pop vibe. “I’ll Haunt You” opens the album on an absolutely gorgeous note. What’s better than a piano-driven ballad with big-hearted vocals? Not sure anything is. This one hit the marks.
Over the course of nine meticulously crafted pop songs, Swimmer pulls us into its world of catchy hooks, heartfelt ballads, and exquisite home-crafted production. This is the best Tennis record yet, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better indie pop album this year.
8.1 out of 10