Tennis - Pollen Music Album Reviews

Tennis - Pollen Music Album Reviews
Much as it always has, the married duo’s confectionary indie pop lands somewhere between pleasantly forgettable, reliably vibey, and genuinely inspiring.

After more than a decade of dedication to a singular sound and soft-focus vibe—not to mention the marriage, the boat, the name—it may be time to accept that Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley are not doing a bit. They simply like what they like, and that’s making confectionary indie pop.

To be fair, they have stripped away some of the whole Tennis thing over the past decade. They’ve dialed back the nostalgia, both visual and aural (back in the day of Cape Dory, their fixation on reverb-y, boom-clap Beach Boys production bordered on parody). They went earnest for Yours Conditionally, a densely packed 2017 album dedicated to the ups and downs of marital devotion. On 2020’s Swimmer, their last full-length, Tennis’ sound finally felt truly broken in, with a new groove and a subtler atmospheric touch.

On Pollen, Tennis’ latest, their persistent melodies quiver with the same earnestness as always, and their self-production continues to hit its stride. Against the stately hush of Moore’s voice, Riley’s bass thunks satisfyingly, and their songs groove harder than ever. Warbled and muffled pianos contrast with acoustic guitars, and a few zany synth choices set Moore up to knock out some vocal delights. 

Tennis smartly avoid the thunderous pronouncements that their peers reach for—the lyrics on Pollen, typical for the band, don’t so much untangle emotional knots as paw at them. Where another songwriter might pen a plodding lament about America, on “Glorietta,” Moore spares us, simply cringing at the “patriotic displays” and complaining that the air show is blocking the sunset. And the song has the decency to bop. And they’re still married as fuck—Pollen has not one but two songs about the couple’s first meeting, when Riley worked as a valet. The closest the album comes to erupting is its penultimate track, “Never Been Wrong,” but instead of heart-stopping strings or crashing guitars, there’s a cascade of glimmering arpeggios and a suspenseful stretch of choir-ish coos. The overall airiness on Pollen gives the sense that Tennis are continuing to have a blast making music that glides from one hook to the next.

This is not to undercut Moore’s writing as simplistic; in their recent albums, she has developed a deceptively gothic sensibility. Pollen actually ends with a song called “Pillow for a Cloud,” and an announcement from Moore that she’s “terrorized” by time’s “evidence,” which is “carved into my skin and over everything I ever loved.” But even as she gets darker, the music prances. As she sings in a particularly sticky hook on “Let’s Make a Mistake Tonight,” “I’ll take my pain with pleasure any day.”

Indie pop’s politeness means that it can scan as a (quaintly, charmingly) unambitious genre. And it doesn’t always work on Pollen; “Gibraltar” feels two-dimensional, like it was written around its title, and on “One Night With the Valet,” they sound like a pastiche of themselves. But Tennis are content with modest ambitions, writing songs that, when they catch the right way, can work themselves into your head for weeks, and warm your heart—songs that land somewhere between pleasantly forgettable, reliably vibey, and genuinely inspiring. Unless you’re pursuing some dizzying state of perpetual jouissance, some degree of ordinariness is just part of the ride. If so, it should be this well crafted. In “Pollen Song,” Moore captures a sentiment Tennis have been seeking pretty much all of their decade-and-a-half-long career: “Baby, you and I/We go cruising over highways/Your hand on my thigh/I got one hand out the window.” Sounds like a good time to me. 
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Tennis - Pollen Music Album Reviews Tennis - Pollen Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on February 20, 2023 Rating: 5


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