Hooton Tennis Club Big Box of Chocolates

Hooton Tennis Club Big Box of Chocolates
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A short year after their debut album, Hooton Tennis Club are back with Big Box of Chocolates, a collection of jangly rock songs that make a point of straddling the line between relaxed and lazy. And although Hooton's musicianship can get a little ramshackle at times (on opener "Growing Concerns," for instance), the Cheshire band can also demonstrate some serious songwriting chops when they put their mind to it. Lead single "Katy-Anne Bellis" is a perfect example, displaying just the right balance of fuzzy grit and melancholy, breaking your heart with its lyrics dedicated to an ex-roommate.
 
Elsewhere, compositions like the country-tinged "O Man, Won't You Melt Me," or the freewheeler "Lauren, I'm in Love!" present a cast of endearing characters over a laid-back, blissed-out soundtrack. At their best, Hooton Tennis Club sound like guys you'd want to hang out with, sharing tales about common acquaintances, playing guitar, making up songs on the spot. They have a way of encapsulating this hurried excitement of effortless creation, even when that means letting some imperfections into the mix.

Your appreciation of this record might depend on your ability to overlook a few indulgent jams. Big Box of Chocolates, like its name suggests, can favour quantity over quality and a mix of good and not so good, but if you take it as it is — an easy-going record made by '70s rock enthusiasts — it packs enough good vibes to keep you listening. (Heavenly)