Ritual In Repeat is the latest release from indie-pop group Tennis, which impressively marks their third full-length album in nearly as many years. The Denver based husband and wife duo arrived onto the scene in 2011 with their summery lo-fi debut, Cape Dory, inspired by a seven-month venture in a sail boat.
Almost four years on, elements of this early sound still remain – the band has held on to its sense of nostalgia and retrospection, and guitarist Patrick Riley often refers back to his originally minimalist style. However this newest release is far more ambitious.
For Ritual In Repeat Tennis recruited the talents of three heavyweight producers, drummers Patrick Carney and Jim Eno from The Black Keys and Spoon respectively, and indie-pop mastermind, Richard Swift of The Shins. While this may lead to an album that lacks a central theme, the result is a stirring collection of tunes that capture the many stylistic variations of both the producers and bands throughout.
While Cape Dory is referenced in moments of simplicity throughout this new album, these are contrasted by more complex layering that demonstrates the distance the couple have come in their song writing. As opposed to the predominately soft and ethereal vocals of her previous tunes, vocalist Alaina Moore comes across far stronger on this album. From the very beginning, with opening track Night Vision her vocals are placed front and centre and proceed to be the standout feature of the album.
More often than not, her crisp vocals are delivered against an upbeat dream-pop soundscape – as is the case in Never Work For Free and Viv Without The N – however the stunning acoustic ballad, Wounded Heart, sees a more sensitive Joni Mitchell-esque approach, which stands out stark against the rest of the album.
I’m Callin’ and Bad Girls are two other standout tracks on Ritual In Repeat. Most notable for its catchiness, the start of I’m Calling features Moore’s breathy vocals sounding almost reminiscent of a late nineties Kylie Minogue. Bad Girls, however, contrasts greatly. More vintage in style, the slowed pace and simple guitar hook form a perfect platform upon which Moore’s vocals are at their best, effortlessly building vocal layers to an impressive crescendo.
With Ritual In Repeat, Tennis once again prove themselves to be impressive musicians, seemingly building on their talents with every album, however this one does fall short at times. While there are many standout tracks, it does seem to lack a concrete sense of direction, which results in the album sounding not quite fully resolved. Nevertheless, it is worth a listen and possibly heralds some even more impressive releases in the band’s future.