CD Review: Cape Dory [2011]

Release: 01/2010
Label: Fat Possum

1. “Take Me Somewhere” – A
2. “Long Boat Pass” – A
3. “Cape Dory” – B
4. “Marathon” – B+
5. “Bimini Bay” – A-
6. “South Carolina” – A-
7. “Pigeon” – A-
8. “Seafarer” – A
9. “Baltimore” – A-
10. “Waterbirds” – A-

Comments: This band’s back story has been blogged about and blogged about and blogged about some more. Their music has been written about just as much, too. So how is the music, since that’s all we care about?…well pretty good.  It’s kind of like Best Coast if Best Coast was folkier and surfier. Cape Dory is pretty all-around surfy. Minimal surf, though, not hectic. That should be noted. The girl singer (what’s her face!) in Tennis can do some fine stretching of her vocal cords. The first song on here isn’t illustrious in the sense of musical creativity/expansion, but it’s merely a light pop song to be enjoyed. Her voice is like that of trad/mod pop singer, but she really packs the punches better and possesses that innocent-but-really-pretty quality. I’m a sucker for the drum beat on “Long Boat Pass” and the surf guitar twang. Don’t twang and surf go well together? That said, how much shore line can we take, damn it?! Not all is awesome (rarely is everything); some of the techniques are pretty tired a la “sha la la sha la la” on “Cape Dory” for instance. On “Bimini Bay,” Tennis brings to mind the stripped down, laid-back nature of label-mates Walkmen’s 2010 LP Lisbon. This aesthetic carries on deep into the second half of the record. Another album I’d compare this to purely based on the metric of ambition is Teen Dream. ‘Course that was one of the best things that I heard last year and this does not match up to that record, BUT compositionally and sonically Cape Dory similarly sounds so natural and free-flowing. I can’t really praise it enough for that. At the end of the day, the hype that Tennis has received seems well warranted. Their take on girl group/oldies revivalism is unique nowadays and will probably stay around for a while.

Grade: A- (90)

Tennis plays Great Scott on February 28.