After jumping from the label that discovered them (Fat Possum) to Ben Lovett's (of Mumford & Sons) Communion Music, the husband/wife duo Tennis released their most direct and well-produced record to date. Small Sound is a five-track EP that refines their indie pop meets doo wop sound into something very accessible but still with some mystery around the edges. Riding the powerful vocals of Alaina Moore and delving into soft rock soul, first track "Mean Streets" is a finger-snapping groover that sounds like something out of the Brenton Wood catalog and may well have listeners reaching for the repeat button. Those who keep going will find four more gems that sparkle and shine, benefiting from the polish they've had loving applied to the surface. Fans of their earliest recordings may find that the lack of woozy textures means the band is less interesting, but they'd be overlooking how strong the songs are and how powerful the vocals are when surrounded by less junk. Besides, they haven't become Maroon 5; there's still enough lo-fi weirdness in the mix to grab and hold listeners who like a little off-kilter hook to go with singalong choruses, rattling drums, and heartfelt emotion. Ultimately though, anyone holding on to Tennis and hoping they'd stay underground has to admit that it's time to let them go. Small Sound proves they are ready for the big time and as long as they stay this good, maybe they'll show the masses a thing or two about how to make pop with a big sound and a true heart.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra