Let's be honest, Tennis were borne of a fad. As 2010 came to a close, bands who could fit comfortably on your dad's record table, but throbbed with new life and indie vibes were certainly of the moment. The arguable permeaters of the movement, Best Coast, would limp into a diminished, if pleasant, sophomore LP a year later, but 2011 already saw other acts taking up the mantle, whether Cults or Tennis, yet the buzz was already moving on. It's a simple truth: bands have a hard time surviving being pegged to a fleeting change of taste – just look towards wherever chillwave went.
While Tennis may have remained unassuming, they've managed something subtly, yet truly, impressive. Not only have they managed to stick around, as an often derided 'husband-and-wife' band, no less, they've managed to improve on their craft with each passing release. While Cults' Static failed to make much – if any – of an impression, Tennis has just kept chugging along, unconcerned with the changing times.
Seeking new inspiration, they have now returned with what's undoubtedly their finest moment in Yours Conditionally. The growth might even be missed by a casual listener expecting more of the same, yet it's undeniable. The songs are warmer, the lyrics more present, more biting. From the outset, ‘In the Morning I'll Be Better’ sets the scene for an album that exists in the moment when feelings grow vacuous. The emotions are still there, to be sure, but this feels like an album after the honeymoon phase, when you start to wonder: just what exactly was it that made you certain you'd love this person forever, and if it weren't for that promise, would you really stick around?
Generally, the songs trot wistfully through these ideas; songs such as ‘Fields of Blue’ and ‘Please Don't Ruin This for Me’ are as fit for romantic brooding as it is a leisurely drive. Therein lies the trick at play, as the warmth of the music belies its often cynical nature. ‘Modern Woman’ takes things on more bluntly, depicting drifting feelings with lines such as “I know that's the way you appreciate me/ even though we haven't spoken lately.” Yet, even as singer Alaina Moore pleads “I'm not asking for forgiveness/ I'm just tired of living with this,” the vibe never truly leaves its comforting pillow of sound.
It's an album perhaps already doomed to be underrated. After all, it isn't bothering to pretend to be trying something new, and is likely to be lumped in with their overall catalog. That's really a shame, as Tennis have opened the windows on this one, letting the listener in – in ways they never quite have before. If you're paying attention, there's a minor treasure at hand. Ease on in.