Ritual In Repeat, the third album by husband-and-wife indiepop duo Tennis, was originally slated for release back in February, and it turns out this delay has been an unexpectedly excellent idea. As I write this the UK is showing the first welcome signs of summer and honestly the weather could not be better suited to Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley’s particular brand of woozy dream pop.
Something about the sound of Ritual Repeat conjures up the aesthetic of warm nights on the American West Coast. One can almost imagine it soundtracking much nicer, less violent versions of Drive or Hotline Miami. It’s all big, dreamy Beach House synths and sharp guitar lines, though there are plenty of satisfying moments where it stretches this template. Lead single 'I’m Callin’' adds Chromeo-style funky keys and choppy guitars to the mix, and it’s immediately followed by the Sixties doo-wop/girl group influenced 'Bad Girls', which even crams in an echoey surf-rock guitar solo for maximum retro effect. The two combined are one of the best segments of the whole album. The Sixties feel is also present on the short-and-sweet “Wounded Heart”, a one minute and forty-nine second breath of acoustic, singer-songwriter, folk-tinged fresh air.
If these strayings from the summer pop template are so satisfying, though, it’s only because the template itself is so effortlessly glorious. The opening three-song salvo is about as perfect a ten minutes of catchy electro-tinged indie as you’ll find anywhere. Opener 'Night Vision' starts with big, strong drums, buzzy synths and a particularly smoky vocal from Moore, 'Never Work for Free' tells a bittersweet story of young love over a delicate interplay of shimmering keyboards and 'Needle and a Knife' is a more soulful number with subtle piano and gleefully flangey guitar breaks.
Both members of this particular power couple are on fine form throughout the record. Patrick Riley’s guitar work is varied, subtle and on point the whole way through, as I’ve mentioned. But it’s Alaina Moore who really shines here, both with her gorgeous keyboard work and, more importantly, her soaring, complex, heartbreaking vocals. It’s a voice that simultaneously drags you into the melodic lushness of the arrangements and blends in with the relaxing, sunny atmosphere. Maybe it’s just the influence of the weather but it’s a magical thing when an album so thoroughly matches your mood like this. Ritual In Repeat might just be the finest pop record you hear this summer, and maybe even this whole year.
8Joseph Rowan's Score