Hooton Tennis Club 'Big Box Of Chocolates' review

Henry Lewis pens his thoughts on the second studio release via Heavenly from the Wirral four-piece.

Henry Lewis

Date published: 21st Oct 2016

Image: Hooton Tennis Club

As nostalgia is a theme deeply rooted in the work of Wirral band Hooton Tennis Club, it seems fitting that they should release their sophomore album Big Box Of Chocolates just over a year after their first wandered languidly into the world.

The recollections of colder nights spent listening to their sublime slacker sound will doubtless be relived, with the inevitable trip to see them shacked up in a local sweatbox surely beckoning.

It's business as usual from Ryan, James, Harry and Callum on album number two. Production duties were overseen this time by Edwyn Collins and there's occasionally a more world wise, self-critical feeling here.

Opening track 'Growing Concerns' is easily more moody than previous work with a non stop stomping beat throughout and the opening lyric: "Am I wasting my time/sitting round being sensible".

That's not to say the quintessential Hooton Tennis Club boyishness has been lost, but a feeling of maturity means that the songs are fleshed out a little more and that occasionally the subject matter gets deeper and more personal than it did first time around.

What remains are the excessively long song titles, the brilliant observational lyrics and the imagery of certain characters that are instantly conjured up in your mind. 

Where a certain Pierre once reigned terror, 'Bootcut Jimmy The G' steps into his place - although he seems like a much more affable character than his predecessor. It's an instantly memorable track with a typically hooky chorus, however the addition of subtle whispers throughout makes this a perfectly poised psychedelic pop song in its own right.

There is almost a feeling of Magical Mystery Tour era Beatles in elements of this album, but ultimately, it couldn't be anyone but Hooton Tennis Club.

Lead single 'Katy-Anne Bellis' (listen above) channels the aforementioned deeper subject matter and the lyrics "I said you're part of the walls, this house will fall down if you're down, down, down" are integral to this. Nonetheless, the track is a sub three-minute jangly romp that exudes pop sensibilities and begs to be sung along to.

Conversely 'Frostbitten In Fen Ditton' is notable in its use of acoustic guitar which makes for a fleshier track and displays a certain tenderness. This is well received amongst the joviality of the songs around it.

In December last year we caught Hooton Tennis Club at Kazimier for the venue's last ever show and heard 'Meet Me At The Molly Bench' for the first time. Ten months later and it crops up here, sounding every inch the scuzzy, happy-go-lucky track that glistened inside the iconic Liverpool venue way back when. 

The album's title track and closing number begins innocuously enough, before a lengthy outro combines fuzzy fretwork with some seriously p.o.w.e.r.f.u.l drumming, giving a nod to a lesser heard but equally as enjoyable heavy side to the band.

Like the first, this album is one that will be subject to endless playbacks. As the title suggests, what lies within is a sugary treat that begs to be enjoyed over and over again.

You can catch Hooton Tennis Club at Invisible Wind Factory on Friday 9th December - tickets are available from the box below

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