Release Date: Aug 28, 2015
Record label: Heavenly
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
If you’ve not yet heard of these four lads from The Wirral (technically Chester and Ellesmere Port) that were ‘scouted’ by The Farm’s Carl Hunter, then you’re first and foremost going to be asking the question, “What kind of moronic band name is Hooton Tennis Club and where the hell did that come from?”. Well, they were scratching around for a name by all accounts before settling on a road sign, so coming from the Liverpool area maybe we should be thankful they didn’t choose something even more corny instead – like Penny Lane, for instance. Thankfully, they’re certainly not morons, at least not when it comes to making music.
There are students who go on luxurious gap years full of twenty-four hour parties on tropical islands and sky diving trips on the other side of the world. On the other hand, others spend them trying to scrape a few bits of change together for the following term; working banal jobs and having deadbeat summers that are entirely absent from their jammy friends. Hooton Tennis Club are the essential soundtrack to getting through that summer of mundanity, delivering in ‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’ a record of romantic, nostalgic pop music that shimmers in the sunlight like Parquet Courts getting through a semester abroad.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Back in late August, the English lads Hooton Tennis Club released their debut LP, Highest Point In Cliff Town. While still just a loose outfit with a couple demos posted online, the band was soon signed to Heavenly Recordings. In spring of 2015 they started recording.
Hooton Tennis Club sound like a bunch of guys who are well-read and well-versed in music history and who like nothing better than picking up their instruments and having a goofy lark. Their debut album, Highest Point in Cliff Town, is filled with the kind of giddily woozy guitar pop that is sure to make slackers both past and present very happy. Songs that sound like the hookiest singles Pavement never released ("Up in the Air") back up to those that sound like solid Pavement album tracks ("I'm Not Going Rose's Again"), with the guitars loping along and crashing together behind Ryan Murphy's slightly dazed everydude vocals.
In my head, I have a mental imagine of the four members of Hooton Tennis Club meeting up in a flat in Cheshire early one evening, deciding what they are going to do for the rest of the night. After a long an intense discussion, the four of them have whittled down their choices to two - either they are going to go out for a Nando's (cheeky or otherwise), or they are going to head down to the nearest recording studio for an hour or two, record a few ditties, having not written anything until they arrive there, and see what comes out the other side. After putting the motion to a house, by three votes to one the decision is to go with the latter, and a few months later, they’ve got a debut album to show for it.
If it’s sex, scandal and sordidness you’re after, then look no further. Heavenly signings Hooton Tennis Club not only take their name from a road sign for a tennis court in north-west Cheshire, they’ve also made an album on which even the most mundane detail is considered newsworthy, from changing the wallpaper on their iPhones to tackling the crossword. On occasion, its literal lyrics can sound like a Lonely Island parody of Pavement, such as the stream of consciousness found on Kathleen (“Even if you’re lonely we can go for a walk in the park or – maybe go swimming?”).
We were only a few weeks into 2015 when newcomers Hooton Tennis Club put in an early bid for song of the year. Eight months later that track, “Jasper”, is still irrepressible. Despite being about the death of singer Ryan Murphy’s grandfather who passed away just weeks before it was written, it’s a perfect pop tune: opening with hazy jangling guitars, jammed with Teenage Fanclub circa-Bandwagonesque melodies, and closing with a sloppy guitar solo that could fall apart at any moment.