Monday, February 10th, 2020

Tennis – Need Your Love

Because they’re called Tennis. Get it?


Ashley Bardhan: Freshman year of college, I would go on walks around the river for about three hours, then go back to my dorm and eat an entire carton of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. When I’m lovesick, I feel like my skin is dying to crawl right off of me and hide under my bed. Freshman year I was lovesick, and sophomore year I started listening to Tennis. I cuff my jeans. I like this song. I like when she says “I hope you’re happy/I hope you’re pleased/I thought you were a victim but it’s clear to me/Baby, you’ve got more poison than sugar.” There are 28 grams of sugar in a carton of Ben and Jerry’s.

Leah Isobel: I can’t tell if this song’s loveliness makes me like it more or less — the lyrics are legibly angry but, outside of the “baby you’ve got more poison than sugar” pre-chorus, they favor coded recriminations and some frankly awkward phrasing. It’s a kind of conflict-aversion that feels true to life, but that hesitation to really call a jerk a jerk means that the emotion gets swallowed up in Tennis’s characteristic indie-pop sunshine.

Kylo Nocom: Thumping keys and Emile Haynie-esque drums of early 2010s radio-alt (exhibit A, exhibit B) fuel the venomous breakup lyrics, Alaina Moore taking after the spunk of Angel Olsen circa 2016. Just as you think you’ve got a hold on the song, a lovely crooner by way of “It’s Too Late” slows the track down into what seems to be smitten admiration. Despite the contrast, it becomes obvious that it’s a sly trick hidden in plain sight: “I need your touch/like I need a bolt of lightning from the sky above” only works if you consider the narrator as terrified of the prospect of falling back in love with somebody as awful as the subject. Tennis explained it themselves on Genius, yet people in the video’s comments still read romance into a song that’s absolutely opposed to the idea of it! Tennis knows how to use the neat tempo transitions as more than just a novelty: a little auditory joke for a lyrical bait-and-switch that switches right back.

Nortey Dowuona: A slumbering piano snores really loudly as Alaina Moore jumps on the bed with the bass and drums, then immediately flees through the whole house, with synths just drinking their coffee and trying not to hear anything. As the piano goes back to sleep, the synths try to pull the lead singer and the bass and drums off the bed, but they just wake the piano, who decides to go back to sleep, and synths, relieved, takes the lead singer, bass and drums down to make them pancakes and then get them off to school. As they pick up their last pieces of their various science and music projects, the piano comes downstairs to see bass and drums jump roping while the lead singer is writing a short story. Piano sits down with synths and they share the last dregs of coffee.

Julian Axelrod: The fast-verse slow-chorus trick is fun as a songwriting exercise, but in practice it feels like two solid indie pop tracks were fused in a whimsical accident at the Fat Possum Records pressing plant.

Thomas Inskeep: Almost two songs in one, the first the piano-and-drum-led verses, the other a more ’70s chamber-pop kind of chorus, and not only are both great, they meld shockingly well. Alaina Moore’s voice has just the right menthol-cool notes to make it all work. But really, it comes down to the song construction here, which is astounding.

Brad Shoup: The lurch from blithe verse into slow-paddling chorus was surely fun to rehearse. The result, though, is a song that feels like two Carole King demos stitched together.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: That tempo change — from the peppy, upbeat verses to the sweeter, slower chorus — is the trick that makes this song work. It feels like the little moments in a day where you suddenly fall into introspection.

Alfred Soto: It changes tempos and moods just because, offers a lovelorn lyric without the passion, and gets winsome when it hasn’t earned it. 

Reader average: [7.66] (3 votes)

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