Hooton Tennis Club – Big Box Of Chocolates (released 21st October)

£17.99 – Indies Only Yellow LP & DL Code

Produced by Edwyn Collins at his Clashnarrow Studios in Helmsdale, Scotland, the track listing of the 12-track album is as follows:

  1. Growing Concerns
  2. Bootcut Jimmy The G
  3. Bad Dream (Breakdown on St. George’s Mount)
  4. Sit Like Ravi
  5. Katy-Anne Bellis
  6. O Man, Won’t You Melt Me
  7. Statue Of The Greatest Woman I Know
  8. Meet Me At Molly Bench
  9. Lauren, I’m In Love!
  10. Frostbitten In Fen Ditton
  11. Lazers Linda
  12. Big Box Of Chocolates

 

If their debut album, Highest Point In Cliff Town, released in August last year, was the band’s sprightly statement of intent, Big Box of Chocolates may well be their coming-of-age: a record that retains all the colour and invention of their debut, while being elevated by richer instrumentation and lyrics that hint at slightly heavier themes: love and loss, nihilism and the ‘non-spaces’ of Northern England, all delivered in the band’s typically laconic, bittersweet style, like a Mersey Beat Murakami.

The dozen tracks continue the band’s knack of combining catchy off-kilter riffs with droll storytelling; album narrators – vocalists and guitarists Ryan Murphy and James Madden – seem to straddle optimism and uncertainty with their lyrics, whether singing about their internal worlds or commenting on a motley cast of characters (Bootcut Jimmy, BBC 6Music presenter Lauren Laverne, Lazers Linda…) who turn up across the album’s 41 minutes to amuse, tempt or torment them. Whether fictional (the awkward genius Jimmy ‘looking shifty in his new shoes’) or real (Ryan’s ex-housemate immortalised in first single ‘Katy-Anne Bellis’), each character shares an equal platform, all revered in Hooton’s own low-key way.

Recorded over three weeks in Helmsdale, during which time they all grew beards, drank copious amounts of tea, became birdwatchers and whiskey tipplers, the album reflects the band’s RELAXED approach to songwriting ; they tend not to labour over recording demos or strumming and beating the life out of songs in the practice room  -instead, ideas are allowed to form spontaneously: melodies are hummed into phones or computers, lyrics batted back and forth between Murphy and Madden, songs worked out alone in the bedroom, or layered up from scratch together in the studio.

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