Tennis [Live] - Yours Conditionally
Tennis is one of those bands that’s able to capture a very classic sound and put a current spin on it. Their newest release, Yours Conditionally, is reminiscent of music you might hear from the Carpenters, Hall and Oates, and ABBA. It has a glorious pure pop approach, but there’s a raw softness to the sound making it more imaginative. Tennis is led by the married duo, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley. According to Alaina, Patrick writes, produces, and engineers most of the music while she writes the vocal melodies and lyrics.
The entirety of Yours Conditionally is easy listening with each song using a similar approach. It’s cohesive without being too repetitive, which is understandable, since it was written while the pair were on a sailing trip from San Diego to the Sea of Cortez. Each track has an almost water-like quality to it, whether there’s a ton of reverb, muffled instruments, or echoing and sustaining synths. They often utilize organ sounds, which helps to complete the vintage feel.
Although they write as a duo, Tennis feels like Alaina’s artistic expression. Her vocals are passionate and personal, with the clarity and purity striking you in the face. Her lyrics are snappy and clever, displaying her intelligence. Like in ‘Baby Don’t Believe’ when she sings “lend me your hand//make me a man//in the heat of the evening,” or how she laments about not being able to cry on ‘Island Music’, a slow and tropical ballad. Then there’s ‘Ladies Don’t Play Guitar,’ which is filled with sarcasm and commentary on stereotyping gender roles; “ladies don’t play guitar//ladies don’t get down down to the sound of it.”
I recently had the pleasure of seeing them perform live at The Mohawk in Austin. Alaina’s hair was the most perfect spherical and curly shape. Her striped bellbottoms and long-sleeve lace top completed the mid 1970s look and made you feel as though you were watching a band from the past. Patrick, standing next to her in the front, seemed more reserved and dressed with a pop of color, but an otherwise mellow style. His stage presence served to make Alaina shine, which she did with ease.
When listening to their albums, I’m always blown away by the quality of her vocals. I was surprised and excited to hear that her live performance was a clone vocally, but with lovely embellishments. They mostly played songs from their new album, but threw a few older ones in there, too. Their energy was consistent the whole time and Alaina engaged the crowd in a way that made you feel connected to her personally.
Of course, they finished with a bang to screaming fans and made us wait for what seemed like forever for an encore. Finally, they came back out and played a couple more, closing with a vocal and guitar only version of ‘Bad Girls’. This stripped down rendition was so beautiful that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. The amount of joy in the crowd and on stage was beautiful to watch. Check out some video and photos from the show below.
by Amber Harris
Photo/Video Cred: Todd Harris