I’ve seen the husband & wife duo Tennis described as “dream-pop/doo-wop” (wording I wish had been in my lexicon when describing Elephant in a previous post); that’s a good starting point, if a bit dated. Their basic approach—upbeat, organic, charming Pop with retro touches—hasn’t fundamentally changed across three albums, they just keep getting better at it (with the help of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, who produced their previous album and half of this one). The songs, arrangements and production are tighter, cleaner, more direct and powerful, and overflowing with hooks. Alaina Moore’s singing seems more confident than ever in being up front, carrying the show. The retro touches pull from across decades—I hear girl-group harmonies ranging from the ’40s to the ’60s, early Motown, Françoise Hardy-style melancholy balladry, ’70s AM pop (“Needle and a Knife” owes no small debt to “Crystal Blue Persuasion”), disco, Hall & Oates, right through to ’90s trip hop—and are blended deftly into something both familiar and fresh. If “Never Work For Free” doesn’t get you dancing, check your pulse.
Buy it here.