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Music  |  Reviews

Tennis: Cape Dory

[Fat Possum]

January 17, 2011  |  11:10am
Tennis: <em>Cape Dory</em>

Warm surf pop to melt the winter blahs away

Whoever was behind the decision to release Cape Dory — Tennis’ gorgeous, beachy debut — in mid-January is a genius. On paper, it might seem odd to drop a sun-soaked album in the dead of winter, but while it’s chock-full of “ooh”s, “ahh”s and “sha-la-la”s, Cape Dory is not a summer album. Powered by nostalgia and just the right amount of cabin fever, this is a record meant for those of us longing to go somewhere — anywhere — as we wrap ourselves in another blanket, sip on a hot toddy, gaze out the window at snow-covered trees and dream of sand.

Recorded by married couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley upon their return to dry land after a seven-month sailing trip, Cape Dory (named for the manufacturer of their boat) is a striking collection of cheery handclaps and 1960s girl group-inspired vocals that—in addition to being a perfect cure for seasonal affective disorder—are likely to draw comparisons to Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. Songs like “Take Me Somewhere” and the title track are sure to put a smile on your face, but it’s when Moore allows a hint of melancholy to register in her voice that she’s at her finest.

Two of the album’s strongest tracks carry in them a slight sense of foreboding. On the lovely “Marathon,” Moore sings, “We didn’t realize we had arrived at high tide, barely made it out alive.” “Bimini Bay” sounds like it’s echoing from a cruise ship’s bar, with lyrics like “we’ve been gone for so very long that we’ve forgotten where we are from” painting the picture of poor souls trapped in a permanent state of leisure.

It’s this combination of lo-fi sounds and lyrical complexity that makes Cape Dory a great debut record. We get the sense that Tennis has a few more tricks up its collective sleeve, and we’re bound to be seeing a lot of them in the near future as the band prepares to embark on a three-month tour. Let’s hope they get to go somewhere warm.

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