Borne out of a streak of bad luck in the three years since Yours Conditionally, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, better known as Tennis are back with their fifth record Swimmer. The next step in their grand voyage across the seas of life, Swimmer serves as the highly relatable soundtrack to the realities of loss, strife, tragedy, and how the forces of love hold two souls together through any kind of imaginable struggle. No easy sail, but Tennis are out to make it count.
“I’ll Haunt You” exemplifies this dynamic, retaining a chill vibe albeit with a high degree of well-harnessed emotion. Moore wonders, in the midst of hard times, if the love her and Riley have for each other can maintain: “How long can it stay like this/leaning in for one more kiss/I’m holding you so long/I will haunt you when I’m gone”. “Need Your Love” loosens its grip on the heartstrings sonically while maintaining much of the same substance lyrically as before: “I need your love and I need your touch/like I need a bolt of lightning from the sky above.” “How To Forgive” runs largely on the same conduit, all the while channeling some serious old school pop vibes set along appropriately modernizing synths.
“Runner” dives into the faith Moore and Riley hold for each other, one that at least on Moore’s part is unshakable confidence that her lover will “never be a runner” and leave her “in a cloud of dust.” “Echoes” is neatly textured and sounds like folk at sea, a vibrant, ear-pleasing approach though probably not the first time it’s been pulled off. “Swimmer” hypnotically touches upon both the death of Moore’s father and the scattering of his ashes, as well as the fact she never learned to swim: “I’d take up swimming for the patriarch.”
“Tender as a Tomb” is a perfect backdrop for the beach, almost Caribbean-sounding and definitely more up in subject matter than its immediate predecessor: “My heart leaps over the concrete/oh I live for you.” “Late Night” switches gears and starts acoustically, with Moore’s vocals silkily riding over the expanding background of acoustics, electrics, synths, and percussion the song’s captivating chorus provides. “Matrimony II” ends things off more sentimentally, starting first with keys and branching out into a well-stringed sequel to 2017’s “Matrimony”. One takeaway? Sometimes the vows aren’t unbreakable under certain circumstances: “So much for my vows/much more concerned with the here and now.”
As far as records go, Swimmer is a solid exemplifier of the ups and downs of committed, married love, ideally keeping things laid back under circumstances of extreme pressure and stress and being able to communicate every emotion clearly. If every relationship could be like this album, the world would be better off. Until then, Swimmer at least provides us with the inspirational soundtrack to do achieve such a feat, with colorful and creative flavor abound along the way.
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