What would it sound like if you crossed the thick vocals of the HAIM sisters, dripping with anticipation, and the sugary-sweet high notes of Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry? It would probably result in something along the lines of the jazzy, delicate, sugar cookie tone of Alaina Moore of Tennis, a sound that seduces without trying too hard.
Tennis’ third studio album, Ritual in Repeat, starts with deep-cutting bass contrasting with nonchalant breathy vocals, blurring into the keys and strings of the background, rushing toward the chorus. Even the buzzing closer to the first half of “Night Vision,” the opening track, gives off more of a cinematic tone than the expected annoyance one would assume to occur from the description. The dark lonely echo and blend of sounds illustrate the feeling of being in a poorly-lit tunnel much after the rest of the world has gone to sleep.
The drums keep the album chugging, picking up pace, into the single “Never Work for Free,” a much lighter, happier sounding song with its snappy, melodic tone and chorus reaching for a never-quite-satisfied climax. Changing climates but not losing a single drop of that consistent style, “I’m Callin’” features fat disco beats alongside Moore’s seductive leisure lounge voice.
Halfway through the album, “Bad Girls” releases all of those diva driven Oh’s, Yeah’s, and Aw’s without the overdramatic pop star style fitting with the jazzy time signature. One can almost picture a trio of backup singers with their synchronized hand jives as the melody slinks on like the foggy, moody haze of a speakeasy. The energetic drumming drives this pop vibe and upbeat tempo despite the mellow nature of every other musical element.
The only song this doesn’t seem to apply to is “Wounded Heart,” which rings like this renaissance poetic flash of a song with soft, lullaby words and a detailed wash of acoustic guitar that’s far from overpowering. This simplistic approach makes the song stand out as quite possibly the best one on the album.
The drums come back as the whole band spins into a waltz feel with, “This Isn’t My Song.” Layering Moore’s vocals like a heavy drop shadow and blending whining slow guitar riffs and droning synths, this song keeps things mellow while returning to a full-band sultry lullaby.
As the greatest example of their ability to juxtapose slow songs with indie pop upbeat jams, “This Isn’t My Song” is followed immediately by “Solar on the Rise.” The sunny vibe is deeply rooted in the upbeat drums and almost laughing sound in the background. The song peaks at the chorus, which sounds like sun glare on the warmest spring day.
This album fits perfectly among their previous. Each track brings something new without straying too far from the album’s overall format. It doesn’t necessarily brag a whole new sound, but follows suit with its quiet voice, high energy and overall mighty punch.