Tennis is annoying, at least on paper. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the husband-and-wife indie-rock duo, played Coachella last month after writing much of their fourth album, Yours Conditionally, on a boat while sailing around the Sea of Cortez. While they sailed and wrote songs, they blogged about it for Urban Outfitters, describing how they have turned inward, toward the sea and away from the music industry. How grating and ultra-hip, and yet the music is wonderful.
Yours Conditionally is the first album since the band's full-length debut, and it does sound like it was written on a boat: poppy, shimmering, timed to the waves, Moore's dreamy voice paired with Riley's relaxed strumming. It's happy music. It's also heavily influenced by the '70s (think the Carpenters), but while the vintage sound is preserved, the lyrics provide commentary on the cheesy ballads the songs are modeled after. These songs are complex and feminist—almost sinister at times—balancing a sound that borders on cloying.
Standout track "Modern Woman" showcases Moore's clear voice and the duo's best writing. "Kate, I'm so afraid you hate me/I think I might have made it true," Moore sings, her voice rising and dipping beautifully. It's so enjoyable that even the Urban Outfitters blogs can be forgiven.
Tennis opens for the Shins at the Wilma Thu., May 25, at 7 PM.