Tennis, like its namesake game, is easy to follow. Any release by the gentle pop group tends to hinge upon relatively simple vocal harmonies and twee lyrics marred by a twinge of longing. “Small Sound,” the trio’s latest release, doesn’t stray far from this formula, though, ultimately, the EP proves satsifying. While Tennis may be simple, its music tends to elicit thoughts of sepia–tinged fall, providing an easy–listening experience. “Small Sound” does mix things up a little bit, adding an edgier, jazzy vibe to its final three tracks—even faintly evoking the sound of a peppier “Veckatimest”–era Grizzly Bear on “Dimming Light.” Tennis succeeds most when it builds upon its established formula, particularly with the closing track, “100 Lovers.” Simultaneously bouncy, harmonious and (almost painfully) sepia–stained, “100 Lovers” is a saccharine triumph. The song is almost too cloyingly sweet for the eardrums, yet manages to catch itself before it ventures into unpleasantness. Tennis has produced a conflicting EP; “Small Sounds” switches up the stale formula that Tennis relies on, but only just enough to whet the listener’s appetite in wait for the band’s next LP. “Small Sounds” is a good step, but hopefully Tennis’ next effort offers up something a little more exploratory.


Grade: B

Download: “100 Lovers”

Sounds best when: Thinking of your unreciprocated crush while walking to get your morning joe in Williams.