Tennis is the sort of music the radio plays in my head. Bright, catchy pop music with a smart mix of modern techniques and throw back sounds, combining to make fresh feeling ‘hits’ to be enjoyed by all as they drive to work or do the dishes, or whatever it is people do when they turn the radio on. But when I do switch the general radio stations on to get my pop dose, it all sounds a bit loud and obnoxious (I’m not old yet), each track thumping along to a beat that seems to cross into other songs. So I turn the radio off and go back to playing the latest Tennis album. They’d be lost on the radio without a feat. anyway.
Ritual In Repeat is album number three from the husband and wife duo, and the sound has come a long way since their first, Cape Dory, set out to provide 50’s diner music for a modern era. This time round they have more in common with the eighties, Madonna being a clear influence. The singles are strong, ‘Never Work For Free’ is a real number, and it makes good use of the past as they recreate it with modern techniques and styles, rather than throwing out a full on replication. The era isn’t quite as exciting as their 50’s sound from before though, as the 80’s were a time of constant pop to the point that you could feel the bubble about to burst. Then grunge became a thing.
While the first half is a constant barrage of fun, the second half starts to feel lacking in energy, filling the content so it can be shipped as a complete album. There are few memorable hooks to hang onto. On the radio the first half would shine, but instead the only way to fully embrace Ritual In Repeat is to shut down half way in, as the forgettable wades in.
As Tennis continue to jump through the eras, one can only wonder what happens when they finally catch up. The diner days are simply days gone by, lost as time moves on. Or as each subsequent album came out.