Rediscovered: Tennis’ “Origins”

Rediscovered is a recurring feature at the Bighorn Sheep, where we discuss favorites that have fallen by the wayside.

Tennis emerged in 2010 with a few nostalgic and surfy garage-pop tunes, whose best features were their hooks and their tape-cassette crunch. Their Cape Dory LP released a year later kept the hooks but threw out the lo-fi for a more polished sound, which left them, frankly, boring.

But then they gave us “Origins.” The blithe pop songs and pretty beaches are replaced by a brisk undercurrent, by deeper waters and desperation.

It sounds like if you gave an alien instructions to make a surf-pop song: all the right parts are there, but these beaches are not of this Earth. You have the doo-wop backing vocals, you’ve got the fuzzed-out guitar. But the 50’s piano backbone shifts and twirls, and the stark production is otherworldly.

Here we surf on technicolor seas under neon skies, dwarfed by Martian sand dunes.

Or is this Earth in the not-so-distant future? We now know the damage we have caused our planet is irreversible. Singer Alaina Moore asks, “[with] the way that we’ve been made to live, how much is required to set things right?”

“Will you make my children bear the consequences?”

“Origins” is haunting, alien, and strikingly sincere: and aren’t these qualities what good garage rock is all about?

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