12 Sep 2015

Hooton Tennis Club / Highest Point In Cliff Town (album review)

As the cheerful, poppy intro to Hooton Tennis Club’s second single 'Kathleen Sat On The Arm of Her Favourite Chair' fills my living room downstairs, I hear someone lurch toward the volume button. It’s my mum, reaching eagerly to turn it up a notch. Like me, she has Radio 6 to thank for sudden adoration for the Chester band. On a daily basis, the song gets played a handful of times, and on almost every occasion one of us turns the volume up to dance around happily to the irreverent indie-pop the band supplies. Singing and laughing along to lyrics like ‘even if you’re lonely we can go for a walk in the park, or maybe go swimming’, it became our summer soundtrack, the sunny storytelling titles reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film or children’s novel.

Their sound is undeniably, dare I say, generic: happy and brimming with jangly guitar, not unlike Swim Deep’s hazy debut, but on Highest Point in Clifftown, the Hooton bunch pack a little more punch. It's the sense of nostalgia that resonates with my mother and I. From growing up in small towns, the foursome capture a perfect snapshot of that teenage mundanity. “I spent the best days of my life/travelling on trains and drawing cartoons”, frontman Ryan declares on 'Kathleen...'.

Don’t be put off, it’s not all lazy, hazy indie. The band’s third single 'P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L P.I.E.R.R.E' is fuelled by alt-rock riffs whilst still maintaining the ebullient air the that carries on through rest of the record. They don’t disappoint on the cheery titles either; 'Something Much Quicker Than Anyone But Jennifer Could Ever Imagine' and '...And then Camilla Drew Fourteen Dots On Her Knee' fill you with intrigue and don’t disappoint with their melodious teenage lyrics.

Of course, it’s incredibly easy to just dub the band ‘slacker indie/rock’, but look beneath the surface and there’s something quintessentially British and eccentric hidden within Clifftown. Pale comparisons to American bands of the same genre can of course be detected, but Hooton Tennis Club have something truly unique under their belt - the ‘heard it all before’ guitar is simply an act, for their witty anecdotal lyrics are the real masterpiece.


Words: Imogen Carter de Jong