By CHUCK CAMPBELL, Scripps Howard News Service
On 'Cape Dory' Tennis courts listeners with seaworthy sound: The cover of Tennis' "Cape Dory" hints at strangeness waiting inside: Lead singer Alaina Moore sports a body suit, excessive makeup and seemingly over-processed hair as she awkwardly contorts her body in an apparent attempt at seduction. Her look and the photo design evoke the '70s, a time when life in the fast lane sometimes meant a slow-motion, Quaalude-fueled drive into debauchery. (The cover is, in fact, a parody and/or tribute to the Lisa Hartman album "Hold On," both covers depicted above and below.)
Yet "Cape Dory's" nostalgic sound isn't disco, as indicated by the cover. It's something odder and older, a hybrid of '60s girl-group and surf rock. And Moore and Tennis partner Patrick Riley are committed to that sound as they glide through 10 songs inspired by a sailboat journey they took in the Atlantic. (The nautical theme is just another surprise from the duo from Denver, the Mile High City in landlocked Colorado.)
Once Moore and Riley bring listeners aboard, they'll hold them captive with the spacey, romantic brew of her vulnerable vocals and the instrumental mix of his otherworldly guitar plus her poppish keyboards and anchoring drums by engineer James Barone.
There's something Blondie-esque about "Cape Dory," and Moore recalls Madonna and Cyndi Lauper when those two dabbled in girl-group styles early in their careers. But Moore is more polished now than her predecessors were back in the day, her clear voice ringing out in striking contrast to the quaint, lo-fi production of "Cape Dory."
Hooks and melodies may be particularly strong on opening cuts "Take Me Somewhere" and "Long Boat Pass." However, the alluring flow of "Cape Dory" remains steady as she goes throughout.
Tennis plus Holiday Shores appear at the Iron Horse in Northampton on Sunday, February 27th at 8:30. Tickets here.