Album Review: Hooton Tennis Club – Big Box of Chocolates

By on Tuesday, 8th November 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Hooton Tennis Club Big Box of Chocolates album cover2016 has seen a revival in many genres. One in particular which has been prominent is the ‘60s sound of psychedelic lo-fi pop. The latest band to boost this movement is Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club, with what could potentially be one of the most British band names ever, and their second album ‘Big Box of Chocolates’. Not really straying too far from their debut, 2015’s ‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’, it’s a guitar-driven affair with no real motive to push beyond what they already know.

Now, this isn’t to say it’s not a fun listen. It’s got Scouse swagger, pleasing chord sequences and witty lyricisms aplenty. The proceedings begin with the rumbles of ‘Growing Concerns’, which builds in slowly, led by the same stomping drums that start the affair. As the guitars swirl in and out, it carries along until seemingly falling away. It’s when ‘Bootcut Jimmy the G’ kicks in that the party begins. More up tempo, it playfully describes a character who’s a loser, a genius and a ‘g’. It goes from its strutting chorus to a stomping verse, doing so with complete style and conviction.

We see them delve into the classic songwriting realm of heartbreak with ‘Bad Dream (Breakdown on St. George’s Mount)’. Still utilising that aforementioned strutting sound, it goes through the nightmare of losing a girl becoming a reality. During the breakdown, spoken word is used, though it’s level in the overall mix is too low to truly understand what’s being said. This is a shame because this technique can usually bring more understanding and meaning to a track with a more focused and centralised view. This is something which is a recurring structure throughout the album and suits the style of both the band and album well.

Northern soul makes an appearance on ‘Sit Like Ravi’, a track that talks about making someone you love “happy, make that someone smile, you have the time and the right things to say”. The track is accentuated by the licks and riffs that follow it that give it an extra edge, taking the slow and soulful and partnering it with sharp, focused rips through the tranquillity. It truly doesn’t take off more the further the album goes. ‘Katy-Anne Bellis’ is essentially an agglomeration of all the above tracks, just with a more pleasing melodic sound. ‘O Man, Won’t You Melt Me?’ follows this pattern but somehow manages to stand out above the rest. It feels honest and has a certain charm the latter tracks just don’t. An easy, radio-friendly song, it’s Hooton Tennis Club doing their thing but with a more natural approach.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w95AhKZOQxA[/youtube]

‘Statue of the Greatest Woman I Know’ is a thunderous next step on from the prior track, though its leading riff sounds like a discarded Parquet Courts track, which is not necessarily a negative thing. They both have the calculated attack that sits above the rest of the instrumentation and leads proceedings. ‘Meet Me at the Molly Bench’ is a revert back to the above standard, basic Hooton Tennis Club protocol, just with added bicycle bell rings at sporadic points throughout, which in all honesty gets to be rather grating.

At this point, the final quarter of the album, you kind of see that nothing’s going to come out of left field and surprise you. This is an album that is meant to be enjoyed. And it has that ability. Just wait for ‘Lazers Linda’, which has an inordinate amount of, you guessed it, laser sounds. You can’t go into this album in the hope of finding some deeper meaning or notions written between the lines. It’s the kind of album that can be put on and left to its own devices, and you won’t feel like you’ve missed out on much.

6/10

‘Big Box of Chocolates’, the second LP from Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club, is out now on Heavenly Recordings. Watch the trailer for the album below. They’re currently in the midst of a UK tour, dates of which are listed on their Facebook. For more of TGTF’s coverage of the band, use this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrOcTYBdeGo[/youtube]

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