Tennis - "Young and Old"
If you’re a fan of the Block Party (weeknights from 8pm-12am EST) on 91.3fm, each month we feature one of the artists featured on the Block Party as an Album of the Month with a New or Renewing Membership to WYEP. The Block Party Featured Album is available in CD format for a $60 donation to WYEP or on vinyl for your gift of $75.
July's Block Party Featured Album of the Month is Young and Old by Tennis. Become a WYEP Member at wyep.org and grab a copy as your thank you gift this month.
After a seven-month-long sailing trip down the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard, married couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley put out their debut album, Cape Dory. Part travelogue, part love letter, the music ended up having a bigger audience than originally intended. During an extensive national tour, the band talked about how sailing informed their writing process and expressed plans to take a writing sabbatical and go on another sailing trip to conjure inspiration for their second album. Instead, they ended up following a more traditional yet more interesting path to their new album, Young & Old.
The duo, with drummer James Barone in tow, eschewed grandiose designs for an abstractly inspirational adventure and committed to their new lives as working musicians. Inspired by the energy from their first tour, they immediately followed months on the road with a month and a half of song writing followed by nine days of recording in Nashville with Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. Young & Old has a marrow shared by past generations of artists who were quick to release their recordings more as a document of a moment than as a detailed reflection of a certain narrative or a contrived studio product. The ten tracks call to mind the hustle and bubble of Motown's best and the immediacy of late 70s punk by weaving staple pop sounds - clean guitars, steady pianos and delicate backing harmonies - with Patrick Carney's Black Keys grit. The second time around, the organs are a bit murkier, the songs a bit faster, the lyrics a measure darker. Moore explained to the AV Club in February that they "wanted to play songs that felt more like rock ’n’ roll," songs "that would feel cathartic to play live," citing the churning single "Origins" as an example. The mix of old sounds and young, anxious spirit feels fresh.
It's not always apparent what's happening in any given song, but the band was right to trust their recent experiences for inspiration since it's clear that something was definitely happening while they made Young & Old. Instead of making an album remembering a journey they already took, Tennis is capturing their growth as working musicians, which is turning out to be it's own strange trip.
Moore and Riley have been open about not fulling understanding what's coming across in Young & Old, - a sentiment that listeners will probably feel as well. That's not a bad thing, though, as the band prefers to let the album be its own journey that deserves experiencing in the moment without concern for the conclusion. This is also an approach listeners should take. Sometimes you just have to commit to something and see where it takes you.
-Review by Overnight Host Dave Hutchinson