Hooton Tennis Club - Highest Point in Cliff Town - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hooton Tennis Club - Highest Point in Cliff Town

by Jim Harris Rating:10 Release Date:2015-08-28

If you've lost your faith in Britpop as having anything worth listening to, Hooton Tennis Club should provide some hope. While there is little in their sound to tie them to those 90s bands (Oasis, Blur, Supergrass, etc), the quality of their songs harks back even a decade before the 90s. I was particularly taken by the opening track, 'Up in the Air', with its laid-back, mid-tempo, slacker demeanor that conjured up a flashback to those brilliant opening tracks on any number of mid-80s XTC albums, who, I believe, had more of an influence on the emo, post-punk, and Britpop scenes than they are given credit for.   

Highest Point in Cliff Town has the potential to storm this band into the UK mainstream as quickly as the first Kooks album did.  I have been subjected to that lovable refrain,"Want to go to the seaside", virtually twice a year ever since The Kooks came to be thanks to two teenage daughters, and frankly, I can't wait until they can take themselves to a Kooks concert. Anyway, I seriously doubt if HTC will progress to pop-funky love songs, and if this album is any indication, their estheticis are far more post-punk. 

Anytime a quality band comes along with the energy and sass of HTC, the inevitable comparisons to other quality bands follow.  XTC came to mind and the sort of 'I'm Not Going Roses Again' and 'Always Coming Back to You' pounding guitar leads conjured up the best of the Smithereens. 

But what firmly places HTC into the modern music scene is the garage meets literate slacker approach of most of the latter songs like 'Something Much Quicker..' and 'Standing Knees' that at once sound as brilliantly clever as anything by Ought or the Parkay Quarts.  Add in a little Pavement and other such pouty lazy hazy song structures, and HTC have truly brought it on this album. 

But songs like 'Spokes' and 'Kathleen Sat On the Arm Of Her Favorite Chair' blend a certain inconsequential realism with solid rock and roll that probably points to their real potential and vision.  'Kathleen' in particular sounds remarkably like what Fountains of Wayne often did in their songs, with their blend of story-telling irony set to moderately powerful rock and roll chords. 

Hooton Tennis Club is a great new band and it will be interesting to see where they go from here. 

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