Hearing Aide: Tennis’ ‘Small Sound’ EP

It’s been more than three years since the North Atlantic sailing trip that inspired Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley’s first album under the musical moniker, Tennis. The duo released Cape Dory in 2011, a collection of surf pop tunes that displayed Moore’s swooning vocals among breezy guitar riffs and beach rock beats. Their 2012 follow-up, Young and Old, showed progression; with producer Patrick Carney of the Black Keys involved, Tennis’ music became more than just a summer soundtrack. The album provided a more complete set of tracks, blending rock ‘n roll elements with their signature island sound.

Tennis’ most recent release comes at a time when the sunshine days of summer finally feel like the distant past. Their new EP, Small Sound, features Moore and Riley moving forward as musicians, distancing themselves even further from their Cape Dory days. After working with Carney on their previous project, Small Sound’s production is the product of another one of today’s biggest indie rockers, the Shins’ Richard Swift. This collaboration results the most developed sound Tennis has created to date.

Small Sound opens with its first single, “Mean Streets.” From the get-go, Small Sound continues Young and Old’s focus on Tennis’ evolved musicianship. In an age where indie pop’s utilization of keys generally means danceable synth sounds, piano acts as a driving element throughout the EP. Introducing itself in “Mean Streets,” Tennis’ usage of piano continues into “Dimming Light,” a song whose R&B influences are apparent in a chorus of percussive claps and incredible vocal range. As Small Sound progresses throughout its five tracks, Moore and Riley continue to provide listeners with new components of their music. Small Sound is Tennis’ most complete piece of work yet; it’s the next step in an already impressive career.

Key Tracks: Mean Streets, Dimming Light, 100 Lovers