My old roommate was an avid swing dancer. The college we lived down the street from hosted a dance night in the Physical Education building every Wednesday, and she would still come home spinning, lithely evading the mismatched furniture of our cramped apartment. We used to move our paint-chipped coffee table from the living room to the kitchen just to make room to slide and jive in. When your living room is barely bigger than your bathroom, you can’t really dip your dance partner…unless you want to hit your head on the arm of the couch…or break a window (which needed to be replaced anyway, to be honest).
“Swimmer,” the fifth studio album by indie pop duo, Tennis, reverberates with the pulse of a sublime dance record. Tonally lush, the “vintage” aesthetic the husband-wife team employs is not at all forced, disingenuous, or gimmicky. Among a slew of 60s and 70s tinged art pop bands, Tennis have kept their consistency and image over a decade long career, which is saying a lot for such a niche genre. In fact, I would dare to say that there wasn’t a way the duo could sonically evolve that much, but with “Swimmer,” the difference is all but textural. Alaina Moore’s vocals are seamless, velvety, and she executes 70s-style pop vocals better than their predecessors. Tennis often gets associated with their cuteness, the wholesome story of their formation, and the apparent concept of their debut, “Cape Dory” (2011). However, with “Swimmer,” we hear the band transitioning from the early fall tonality of “Young and Old” (2012) to a cold midwinter night. I don’t want to say “Swimmer” is their magnum opus just yet, but over time, it could become that. Coming home from a dance hall containing the sweat of summer to the sudden shiver of winter has never felt so startling. Even so, my bones don’t want to stop swaying with each passing beat.
After leaving for mission trips in Central Europe, my roommate and I lost touch. Every so often I read her blog posts detailing her journeys in Serbia, sitting on the couch we hauled back to our apartment. Now only mine. When her replacement roommate isn’t home, I often play music generously loud in the living room. I put on big band jazz, or anything to make me swing across the room as I go about my day, oscillating between the mundanity of chores or homework. Passerby on the sidewalk or the squirrels frequenting my yard might see me dancing, behind my tacky yellow floral curtains (straight out of the 70s). They might see that I’m alone, probably thinking I’m crazy in my obliviousness, or dancing with a ghost. What they don’t see is that when I dance, my hands are reaching out, not to nothing, but for someone to hold them. Hold them, and move with me.