Ever since their debut album, Cape Dory, I always look forward to anything new from Tennis. Their sound is a blend of enchanting pop hooks with elements and traces of music from days past. As it goes, I feel that their albums have actually gotten better each time. This being their third full length album, Ritual in Repeat is quite literally the band's best effort to date.
This is a front to back, cover to cover release. Every song stands strong on its own yet completely belongs to the overall collection of compositions. For my money, there have not been enough albums this year in which every song will grab your attention. This is one of the reasons Ritual in Repeat is so refreshing and welcome.
The album opens up with a prodding thumper called "Nightvision". This is about as slow as any track takes to get started. Once the chorus kicks in, you know you are in for a treat. When you hear "I knew all the love songs", it is music magic. The only thing you will find here are sounds that move your soul.
There is no nonsense or filler on this album. Only three tracks go over the 4 minute mark. Everything else is shorter. The first song that started to get stuck in my head was the upbeat pop number "I'm Callin". It borders on being campy but that is absolutely ok. It is written perfectly and will haunt your mind when the music stops.
"Timothy" is another standout track. With the reverb turned up, when Alaina sings "quick to judge", the reverb rolls off of those syllables perfectly. Hearing the nuance in that phrase in combination with the reverb effect has also gotten stuck in my head. Whether done on purpose or accidental, it stands out and gives the song texture. The "ahhs" sung in the background are enchanting as hell and then the backbeat kicks in. Forget it. The fact that the album finishes so strong after this is truly a feat.
The only time this album stops for a breather is for the "Wounded Heart". At a track time of 1:49, I am not sure if there was a shorter song that could convey such emotion so quickly and beautifully. It is a slow acoustic gem and it helps balance everything out.
The way Tennis decided to end this album was interesting. "Meter and Line" could be one of the best songs here and it is the last track. It clocks in at a mere 2:31 and ends abruptly leaving the listener wanting more. Listening to the entire album over again is a great way to get back to listening to "Meter and Line" once more.
Ritual in Repeat may very well be the apex of Tennis. They have hit their stride and in my opinion they hit all of the right notes with each song and with each note they decided to play. This album will be very hard to top. Until this band gives that a go with a fourth release, I will have this album on repeat.