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On their fifth album, Tennis bask in the self-imposed sunset of their lives.
Published: 19/03/2020   Author: Jay Singh
Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the husband-and-wife duo behind Tennis, have spent the past ten years in periodic exile whenever they decide to make new music. As captains of their own sailboat they’ve voyaged out to sea, away from outside influences and interferences, finding inspiration only through each other and the fields of blue that surround them. This time around, though, their situation was much less idyllic.

Born out of the ‘darkest time in their lives,’ new perspectives stop them from treading water on this record. Whilst on tour in support of their last album, Yours Conditionally, the band faced a number of life-changing events, including health scares and the passing of Riley’s father. It’s a time they thought they couldn’t make it through, and even considered cancelling their tour and retiring from music - instead, they used these experiences as a jumping-off point for Swimmer, and made their best album yet.

For an album born from a period of such uncertainty it sounds incredibly sure of itself, featuring some of their strongest instrumentation to date; lead single ‘Runner’ is a victory lap, and arguably their magnum opus. Feverish synths and percussion swell larger than life, full of adrenaline, lifting Moore’s airy vocals up with them - one of the most exciting re-introductions to the spotlight in recent years. As well as being a touching tribute to Riley’s late father, recounting the day the pair scattered his ashes at sea, the title track is exquisitely produced; Riley’s guitar work throughout the track solidifies the song as an instant classic in the Tennis canon, building to a crescendo that mimics the catharsis the band must have been seeking through such a tumultuous time in their lives.

Despite the dark subject matter Swimmer is anything but pessimistic. Light bleeds into each track, whether through a crack in the blinds or a wide open curtain, brightening even the darkest of sentiments. Existential angst is not confronted but embraced, and works as the catalyst for much of the songwriting; Tennis have acknowledged their mortality and spun what should be bleak into something beautiful. Swimmer is spent in the self- imposed sunset of their lives: “On the crest of a wave / How long can we stay like this?” Moore wonders on opening track ‘I’ll Haunt You,’ not yearning for more time but savouring however much they may have left. It’s easy to feel like an intruder as you listen to some of these songs - the writing can become so intimate and vulnerable, like sweet nothings whispered between them - but that’s part of the charm.

Swimmer feels as though it’s been years in the making, whether consciously or not. It’s an amalgamation of the work they have crafted over the years: ‘Need Your Love’ epitomises the sound they’ve now come into, while ‘Tender as a Tomb’ is an homage to the their kitschy, 60s-inspired debut. Tennis have honed in on all of their strengths and created a landmark record in their career - a perfect epilogue to their past decade, and hopefully the beginning of a new chapter. Here’s to another ten years.

Swimmer is available to stream/purchase now.



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