Tennis - Ritual In Repeat - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tennis - Ritual In Repeat

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2014-09-09

The Denver duo of Alaina Moore and Pat Riley (um, not the b-ball coach!) have been busy lately exchanging skin with the likes of David Letterman, Jay Leno, Carson Daly, and Conan O’Brian. So all the late-night hawkfests have been covered and by now they should be household names. They’ve even managed to place tracks on episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Once Upon a Time, so they must have a very powerful agent. 

Being the party-pooping Ben Franklin type (“early to bed, early to rise…” and all that), they are a new musical force to me, and based on this, their third long-player, I’ve got some catching up to do. The minimalist ‘Night Vision’ is mostly just a tinny drum-kit slapping around the room while Mrs Riley flitters across your earbuds with a pleasant, little-girl-next-door vocal delivery. Her vocal is not too far from vintage Madonna’s soothing songbird flutterings with lilting Kate Bush overtones, particularly on the upbeat toetapper ‘Never Work for Free’.

Crystalline vocals are the band’s strongpoint, but the tunes are also strong and memorable, something you’d love to hear screaming out of your convertible CD player on a warm sunny drive up the coast or down to the beach. ‘I’m Callin’’ starts with a simple drum pattern straight off The Go-Go’s ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ and veers towards the wonderful soft pop of the Millington sisters (of Fanny and Slamming Babes fame). I hear a little of Stevie Nicks’ twang in ‘Bad Girls’ (and Riley’s Hawaiian, twangy surf guitar is a nice touch as well) and by now I’m liking this couple’s record collection.

Moore is equally adept at various styles: pop, soul, ballads (‘Wounded Heart’), and a little country are on display throughout this charming collection of unadulterated soft-pop tuneage. She can even coo-coo-ca-choo with the best of the sexy, soft whisperers like Mary Lou Lord, Marissa Nadler, and The Yearning’s Maddie Dobie (who, if you closed your eyes and let your heart soar to dreamland, you’d swear was singing ‘This Isn’t My Song’). Whoever ‘Timothy’ is, he’s a lucky dog to have her croon the wonderful song that bears his name. They can also be enigmatic when they set their mind to it – who else could turn such a confusing title as ‘Viv Without the N’ into such a loverly, fingerpoppin’ dittyy?

I’m glad I caught up with the Rileys while they still have a fairly small discography to go hunt down. Based on the tracks on this perfect pop album, I’m sure it will grow enormously in the years to come. Throw away all those silly American Idol, The Voice, and Britain’s Got Talent albums you’ve been wasting your time on and give a listen to some real talent.

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