Tennis : Pollen

The Denver, Co indie pop duo Tennis, made up of husband and wife Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, have had a pretty impressive run of albums. Beginning in 2011 with their debut Cape Dory, the duo built on a sound that was heavy in 80s electro pop nostalgia and folksy indie rock ala Belle & Sebastian and The Sea and Cake. Forming in 2010, they hit just as an early 80s pop sound was gaining momentum with bands like Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, Best Coast, Beach House and Craft Spells.

While riding that nostalgia wave, Tennis never sounded like any of their contemporaries. Instead they kept a lighter feel. Yacht rock for the Pitchfork crowd. Moore and Riley proved they weren’t one hit wonders by continually releasing solid albums. Nothing too different than what came before, but different enough because the songwriting was there, and improving.

Five albums in a decade is pretty good, and with their sixth album Pollen Tennis seem to have plenty more to write about. Heavier on groove and with an almost lo-fi sound, Tennis continue to stay relevant with this 10-song long player.

I feel this is the first Tennis record that is free from that vintage tinge. It’s the least retro album they’ve produced. “Forbidden Doors” opens with an almost hip hop beat and Tame Impala groove. Alaina Moore has a “come hither” lean in her vocals, while Patrick Riley’s production skills crank out a very modern pop vibe. “Let’s Make A Mistake Tonight” is a full on club banger. Electro disco rhythm, late night vibes, and an overall Ray Of Light-era Madonna sound.

Elsewhere “One Night With The Valet” tows the line between modern and retro, somehow smearing 70s AM pop with 2000s R&B in a very successful way. “Hotel Valet” is all sultry sighs and breathy moments that bring to mind The Weeknd and Daniel Lopatin’s brand of pop radio dominance. “Never Been Wrong” is the most “classic” Tennis sound, dominated by guitar and chiming synths.

For a indie pop duo that got their start in vintage outfits and Tony Orlando and Dawn hair styles, Tennis is doing pretty good over a decade in. Pollen continues their solid songwriting with some welcomed sonic and production updates to their sound. -J Hubner

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