Both arrived on the indie music scene with the pomp of bravado, usually found to accompany such upstart acts.
Both came attached with a sense of novelty, each evoking a sense of 60s nostalgia.
One was a self-crafted Youtube viral video sensation, later making it onto the real tube with appearances on Jools Holland.
The other popped up in the indie music blogosphere with an amazing story, sailing the Northeast seaboard, to accompany their just as great rookie album.
The critics loved them both, touting them the next big thing.
And then both were put to the true test – the 2nd act. Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die and Tennis’ Young & Old just so happened to be released within 2 weeks of each other. And so I thought I’d put them to the good ol’ test of sink or swim?
Lana Del Rey – Born to Die, released January 31 – SINK 😦
It’s a first album for Lana Del Rey, but she’s been around for so long now that her premiere album might as well be considered her sophomore. There is a massive amount of expectation surrounding the release of album; and just like many other critics out in the webosphere, I too, found myself disappointed. And here’s why: Lana Del Rey was touted, and expected to bring back the 60s, a la Nancy Sinatra with a post-millenial hipster spin. Born to Die isn’t that album you were expecting. On my first listen, I was actually reminded more of Britney than I was of Nancy. The sound is pop, not retro. The lyrics are most definitely a little backwards, even for the Nancy Sinatra-generation. I don’t think many girls out there want to acknowledge that their “ol’ man is a bad man, but can’t deny the way he holds (their} hand,” as she sings in Off the Races. I know it’s a gimmick, but not for the entire album, darling! The album is also a bit inconsistent in sound. A little electronic here, a dash of 60s girl band there. I truly wished that Lana Del Rey, or her producers, just stuck with the theme like she does with her big lips and hair.
That said, there are some diamonds in the rough. This is What Makes Us Girls and Million Dollar Man have the right beats, melodies, lyrics and match Del Rey’s voice really well. So would I recommend this album? Not really. It doesn’t expand the genre like you would expect it to. It just is. But hey, give it a listen anyways if you’re looking for something new. And you can read more about why people love and hate LDR at the same time here.
Tennis – Young & Old, released Feb 14 – SWIM! 🙂
Tennis’ sophomore album is on the other side of expectations and outcomes. This time, it actually worked. And the effort paid off. With The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney as producer, and a return to the chirpy, sweet sounding 60s girl group pop sound, the husband and wife duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley have created a goodey. While not as dreamy as Tennis’ very cohesive first album Cape Dory (which is probably now one of my most favourite albums, ever), Young & Old still works! While the last album was all about a journey, this one is more about self-reflection. They make a brief foray into 70s R&B with the song, Petition; but otherwise, Alaina Moore continues to channel her lovely voice into the whimsical and melodic fun of the swinging 60s and 70s.
Now, if only similar effort had been put on Lana Del Rey’s sound rather than her image.
And for all you Londoners – Tennis will be making a free performance on Valentine’s day at Rough Trade East at Brick Lane (my fave music store in London)!
You can listen to Tennis’ Young & Old streaming below