Clash (magazine) - "[B]y far the most beguiling of Hooton Tennis Club's new twists is when they play it completely straight, allowing the honest, emotive edge that was always buried beneath their slacker aesthetic to take centre stage."
Recording information: Edwyn's Clashnarrow Studio, Helmsdale, Scotlanden (07/2016).
Photographer: Dan McEvoy.
Hooten Tennis Club aren't the kind of band that makes waves; they don't make a splash either, and there's no annoying rock & roll swagger in their walk. Like the nice chap next door who looks after his neighbors' dog when they go on holiday or the kid who helps carry old folks' groceries to their car, Hooten TC come across as regular guys and the songs they play are easygoing, friendly, and big-hearted. Their previous album, Highest Point in Cliff Town, was an unprepossessing, laid-back lark, filled with catchy indie pop tunes played and sung with boyish charm. To follow it up with anything other than that would be a real bummer, and Big Box of Chocolates is exactly what it should be. Which is more loose-limbed, goofy pop played with a light touch and recorded by Edwyn Collins and the band with restraint and no tricks whatsoever. Song after song roll by happily like waves at the seaside, much as they do at Collins' seaside recording studio. A couple of them have a little more impact thanks to a sharp guitar riff or a snappy chorus, but what Hooten TC are selling here is 40 minutes of carefree fun designed to set minds at ease and inspire goofy smiles. Even when they dig into slightly less happy topics like bad dreams, being stuck in bad situations, or good friends moving away, their delivery is so gracefully pleasant that they could be singing about a zombie apocalypse and it would still transmit warm feelings. It's a rare thing for a band to sound so at ease with its music, and these lads are so relaxed that it's hard to even imagine them working too hard at getting the songs together. Most bands really want everyone to know how extremely hard they are struggling to create their art, but with these guys it feels like they just showed up at the studio and started playing, and the album magically was done. It's an approach that might not work for everyone, but so far the guys in Hooten TC have pulled it off for the second time in a row. ~ Tim Sendra