Tennis – ‘Marathon’

After the surprise hit of Best Coast’s debut last year, which finally managed to validate in guitar music the long maligned activity of smoking weed and laughing at cats, record companies everywhere have no doubt spent much time and effort trying to find a band that might replicate their success in both musical content and record sales. And so it is that Tennis, a band consisting of only a female vocalist and guitar player, enter the new year with an increasing amount of hype around them.

Much like Vampire Weekend, the current lords of the American indie scene, Tennis have followed in the trend for taking ‘old school’ flavours through to their most literal conclusion. A distinctly preppy tone accompanies rigid and clean sounding guitar structures, seemingly designed to evoke images of a dance floor during prom night in the sixties, all of which sounds so explicitly ‘vintage’ in its appeal you can practically smell the musk of second hand clothes. Finally, as if to completely assure the hipster legions that they are cousins to Best Coast and not the now polished pop of Vampire, Tennis record all their tracks in a ‘lo-fi’ fuzz that for better or worse, seems to be proving a staple of the alternative indie scene in America at the moment.

‘Marathon’ provides Tennis with a strong lead single that serves as a neat introduction to the band; dulcet female vocals roll alongside a bass line seemingly lifted straight out of Grease, neatly placed guitars enter for the chorus, and somewhere in the distance a group of woodland critters sway gently in time to the beat.

I would wager that the enjoyment of the song correlates exactly to the propensity one has for all things self-consciously ‘twee’. Much like the contrived styling of Wes Anderson’s output, who pioneered twee in its rawest (and frequently most irritating) form with his films, ‘Marathon’ is characterised by a certain simplicity and lack of interesting substance, but it’s hard not to find it fairly pleasant, even if it is on a somewhat superficial level. More than anything else, it provides suitable escapism during a month of the year in which fantasies of driving a Cadillac to high school in southern California appear especially useful.

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