This is by no means the first time I’ve picked a tune based on the weather. In fact – and I don’t think I’m alone in this – climate might be the single strongest guiding force behind the stuff I choose to listen to.
“Marathon” is hardly a new release – it hit the web in June. In these dog days of September, though, this tinny little joy – easily capable of getting swept out to mp3 sea – is certainly worth floating back to the surface.
Tennis’ story is a romantic one. Landlocked (Denvered, to be precise) married couple Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore save up for a small boat in order to realize a lifelong dream of sailing the East Coast. Despite their foolhardy lack of nautical experience, they do it: Bahamas to Baltimore, capturing their experiences in lyrics and crystallizing those into ’60s girl-rock inspired ditties once back on the mainland.
The lyrical beauty and economy of “Marathon” will be overlooked by listeners who spend only the amount of time with the song that its uncompromisingly simple, pop-skeleton formula appears to ask of them. Perhaps in view of this, Tennis kindly posted the lyrics on their Myspace a few weeks ago.
They tell the tale of one small experience: sailing along a stretch of the Florida shore in a day or two fraught with mishaps – small, but easily disastrous tidal miscalculations and worse-than-expected weather. Exactly the kind of tribulations that you would expect to befall a young couple at sea with way too little experience.
Yet, the words are lean and descriptive, all but void of the emotion that, we can imagine, inflated this circumstance at its moment of occurrence.
we didn’t realize
the forecast had been revised
by moonless skies and
shifty wind that gusts and dies
This expressive restraint meets its parallel in the song’s melodic structure: a “my-first-electric-keyboard” hops along a major scale; a tinny electric guitar adorns the chorus with crude, colorful strokes that make you want to dig your old Fender out of the basement, having been infected by the utterly false but entirely pleasurable belief that you could sit down and write music like this.
And that chorus: fourteen unimprovably well-placed notes, sung with no-nonsense quivering precision, make for one of the most irresistible hooks in recent memory.
Listen to “Marathon” here on hypemachine, and stay tuned for Tennis’ impending full length, which they are supposedly in the midst of recording.