There are two great things about "RFC Drunk Reviews", the new column which is the brainchild of the as-wonderful-as-she-is-damn-fine Abby Holmes. The first of these aforementioned "things" is the utter hilarity that comes with brutal honesty. Whereas a sober version of Amber Valentine might name an album's strong points as well as it's downfalls, a slightly less-than-sober Amber will instead just say "this kind of blows" and then list the reasons why "this kind of blows". Naturally, you can glean from this that "RFC Drunk Reviews" is mainly going to be the most successful when used as a tool to review albums that we might find "just okay" or "drownright bad" when sober.
The second reason why "RFC Drunk Reviews" is so great is that if you're getting smashed at home alone for the purpose of writing, it doesn't make you look like you have a problem like getting smashed at home alone otherwise would. Alcoholism? No, sir! I'm on the clock!
So, it was decided, that I would try my hand at my first "RFC Drunk Reviews". It was a Thursday night and I'd finished working and had no social plans to speak of so I poured myself a whiskey stronger than one should probably consume, turned on the old iTunes, and began my first RFC Drunk Review with Tennis.
I only knew two things about Tennis before sitting down with their debut, Cape Dory. What I didn't know was whether Tennis was a "she" or a "band". I assume Tennis is a lot like Best Coast, where lead Tennis is the Bethany of the band, only blonder, thinner, and possibly with less pot-riddled lungs. I'm not entirely sure and the beauty of "RFC Drunk Reviews" is that fact checking is not needed. So from here on out, the blonde frontwoman of Tennis will be referred to as Tennis even though she probably has a "trendy in the late '80's" name. Now that we've covered what I don't know about Tennis, I'll tell you what I do know about Tennis and what I do know about Tennis is as follows: She/They recorded a Daytrotter session that I downloaded by didn't listen to. Also, the album cover is God awful. Seriously. Take a look at that thing. It's like she's trying to look like a hipster version of Olivia Newton John circa Physical. Is it because she really liked Grease? Is it because of her adoration for unnatractive cat suits? Is it all for the sake of irony? Whatever it is, I don't like it. And I don't think I like Tennis either.
Were I less not-sober than I am, I would list technical reasons why I don't like Tennis, most of which would have to do with her music, which I don't like. But you know what I don't like more than her music? Her image. This comes back to that Ironic Newton John album cover. You see, I have a theory and it is as follows: Best Coast is the Urban Outfitters of music. Were Urban Outfitters a twenty something chick, it would be Best Coast. And Tennis, who is marketed as a counterpoint to Best Coast in many ways, is the American Apparel of music. I like this analogy because it isn't only true about their image, it's also true about their music. Were I to walk into an Urban Outfitters, I would expect to hear Best Coast playing and all of Ann Arbor, Michigan's Bethany-alikes to be grabbing their share of denim jumpers and floral dresses. This kind of offends me because I love floral dresses but none of my floral dresses are from Urban Outfitters but I feel like when I walk around Ann Arbor, people think I'm just another college aged trust fund hipster. I'm not. I don't even have a trust fund! And I graduated college years four ago! But I look young and trendy and people probably look at me and think I listen to Tennis and Best Coast. But you know what? I hate Best Coast! I don't think I hate Tennis and now that I'm actually listening to her CD, it does have redeeming qualities but it's problem is that it's incredibly bland. It's like if Best Coast and Beach House had a very boring baby and it's aunt was Gold Motel. In this scenario, Gold Motel is the cool, wacky aunt that buys her niece booze for her 17th birthday. That is to say, that out of all the bands I have just compared Tennis to, I like Gold Motel the best. Wait, no, I like Beach House the best. Regardless, I think Tennis's PR and label are thrilled because they're capitolizing on this "dreamy girl indie" trend and they probably look at Tennis's American Apparel clad body and see a lithe cash cow.
Remember when Britney Spears got famous? Then Christina Aguilara came along? And everyone was cool with two teen pop starlets but then Mandy Moore released "Candy" and people were like "Who is this bitch? What a style biter!" We're encountering that in indie rock right now, with Beach House in the Britney slot, Best Coast as Christina, and Tennis as Mandy. I personally like Mandy the best out of these teen starlets of yore but I didn't warm up to her until she ditched her pop persona and became a cute girl next door who snagged dreamboat Ryan Adams. Seriously. If you'd have told my fifteen year old self that Mandy Moore would marry Ryan Adams, I would have laughed... Then probably have cried. But they're totally cute, right?
As for the Vampire Weekend connection, they're the poster children for affluent indie rock and I feel like Tennis is their female counterpart in terms of being an affluent indie poster child. I think this comes back to her album cover and image. I totally bet that Tennis shops at American Apparel! Who even pays like $50 for a plain dress? I don't know, maybe thrift stores have ruined me because I got this totally adorable dress for $4 at the Salvation Army and I do stuff like that a lot but American Apparel seems really overpriced to me. I don't go in there. I have a friend that works there though and he's really cool although he seems to be kind of embarrased to be working at American Apparel. I don't work at American Apparel but I once applied to Urban Outfitters and their application was ridiculous. Why do they need to know your favorite bands? YOU'RE SELLING CLOTHES. GOD. I ended up putting down classic rock artists on the basis of principal and never got an interview. I do not regret this.
So after "Marathon", this Cape Dory album kind of lulls. Tennis has a pretty voice in a Camera Obscura sort of way but I wish she'd be more interesting. I feel like she's very influenced by girl garage rock bands like The Beatle-ettes and The Goodees. And also a little St. Vincent. In fact, for comparison purposes, I just listened to a track by The Goodees and Tennis's "South Carolina" and they sound remarkably alike. This endears Tennis to me slightly more but not enough to make me like Tennis. I feel like a lot of the world is going to like Tennis though because she actually bridges the gap between the dreaminess of Beach House and the alt-ness of Best Coast. I think "Pigeon" is going to end up on a lot of soundtracks. It's a total "first kiss" song. In fact, a lot of Tennis songs are "first kiss" songs and I think that's probably because all she sings about is boys. You know what, Tennis? I like boys too but I also like other stuff. I think you should branch out. What else do you like other than boys? Cats? Weed? Maybe you should write about those! Oh, wait, no, that's a poor idea...