The difference between “Cape Dory,” the debut that established Tennis’s twee-and-easy nautical pop, and the husband-and-wife duo’s third album, “Ritual in Repeat,” is a sharp reminder that a band’s vision can be established right from the start, but focus might still arrive later. The new disc is as summery as ever, but there’s a sultrier kick, a hot-blooded sway in songs like “I’m Callin’ ” that Tennis lacked early on. Where once the group was soft, now it judiciously uses softness; even when the chorus of “Night Vision” blooms into a cloud of cooing vocals and cottony guitar jangle, it’s anchored by sharp drums and locked-down bass. The performances finally have weight, if not depth: Alaina Moore pushes her Madonnaesque voice a little harder in the beachy girl-group number “Bad Girls” and the Haim-ish “Never Work for Free,” and it pays off handsomely — something that holds true even when it’s just Moore and a lightly plucked acoustic guitar on “Wounded Heart.” (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Night Vision”
Tennis performs at the Sinclair on Sept. 29.Marc Hirsh can be reached at email@example.com.