It’s been a heady rise for Merseyside’s Hooton Tennis Club over the last year. Establishing themselves as the new golden boys of the Heavenly label, cutting their teeth alongside the imprint’s well-established names and arriving with this debut against the backdrop of an ever-humming buzz. With the Bill Ryder-Jones-produced Highest Point Cliff Town, Hooton are under many a watchful eye – it’s their opportunity to compile something lasting off the back of initial attention.
Their fondness for the slacker-isms of US garage rock types have been pointed too plenty, so it’s no surprise that it’s a record well indebted to that scene. But less talked of is the healthy dose of British nostalgia thrown into the mix here, with shades of Blur, The Charlatans and even The Mary Chain all shifting the focus slightly.
However, sometimes the attribution of these influences, from both sides of the Altantic, come in wafts rather than knock-out blows. Playing the slacker card is all well and good, but far too often on Highest Point we’re left a little short of the hooks and melodies to subsidise for the lack of immediacy. It can feel like Hooton are waiting around for something to happen without delivering.
None of that can take away from the undeniable wit of this band, and even in the most unremarkable phases of this record they display a knack for making their personality shine through. That, combined with the gorgeous album highlights ‘Jasper’ and ‘Always Coming Back 2 You’ and a chorus that’ll stick in your head for days in the form of ‘P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. P.I.E.R.R.E’, gives you just enough to go away thinking that there’s more in Hooton Tennis Club yet.