Tonight, in the dark underbelly of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, a cluster of like-minded music fan poseurs are readying their Friday nights with a low-profile offering from Denver’s most cherished lo-fi indie poppers. The crowd is modestly sized, given the relatively established nature of the night’s headliners – Tennis released their second full-length, ‘Young & Old’, this last February on Fat Possum Records – and it must be said they are slightly on the aloof side too. But then maybe that’s just the nature of the scene.
It doesn’t mean that fun isn’t being had of course. The husband-wife duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley have a winning charm and a well-oiled muscle for crafting twee pocket symphonies, and with seamless nonchalance they rattle them out in one joyous, never-ending, saccharine blast. New and old mingle unnoticeably, with newbies ‘Take Me To Heaven’ and ‘Petition’ hitting all the same 60’s girl group-aping heights as ‘Deep In The Woods’ and the particularly mercurial ‘Cape Dory’. Shoulders swing more and more irresistibly as the reverb onslaught becomes too jubilant and carefree to contain.
Influences are worn proudly in music from this world. And it’s a world where The Everly Brothers and The Flamingos have as much currency as Teenage Fanclub, The Crystals and The Vaselines. Most of these songs – and it isn’t a criticism – conjure up at least one other that you can think of, given enough time to battle through the tip-of-the-tongue frustration. Slow moments are carefully rationed, and effective all the more, with ‘My Better Self’ particularly resonating.
Inevitably though for a band at this stage of their career, it is the ‘old’ favourites that receive the most energetic responses. ‘Marathon’ probably remains their most blogged-about moment, superbly recalling Dion and the Belmonts’ classic 1959 single ‘A Teenager In Love’. And as a culmination one-two punch, you couldn’t hope for much better than ‘Baltimore’ and ‘Bimini Bay’, both debut album highlights. A gig that even the most hardened of detached scenesters couldn’t help but leave with a spring in their step.