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Back in late August, the English lads Hooton Tennis Club released their debut LP, Highest Point In Cliff Town. While still just a loose outfit with a couple demos posted online, the band was soon signed to Heavenly Recordings. In spring of 2015 they started recording. And now, the boys have a garage-pop album that is garnering some attention.

This album has been advertised as "the sound of the summer of adolescence slipping into the autumn of adulthood." And that is fairly accurate. Many of the songs on the record have a sonic push and pull between rambunctious garage-rock and keen pop sensibilities. It is something the band knows how to play with very well.

Opening track, 'Up In The Air' opens with the lyrics, "Is it better to be up in the air/ or flat on the ground?" This kicks into pulsing drums and weaving guitars and then breaks into a nice mid-tempo with taught, distorted rhythm guitar. It's that play of punk tearing at the natural ear for pop melodies the band has. And even the lyrics talk about doing crossword puzzles due to boredom. The opening song sets the tone of the tug-of-war between youthful angst and the apparent banality of "adulthood".

One of the standout tracks has to be 'P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. P.I.E.R.R.E.'. With a slinking bass line and power chords, this song is more garage than anything else. There is, however, a guitar interlude at the beginning of the song that shows the band has more up their sleeve than they're letting on. While on the surface the solo sounds drunken and pitchy, all of it is purposeful. They know how to play their instruments. The guitarist probably worked for weeks trying to get that solo to exactly the way he wanted- effortless in the most literal sense of the word. As if we are to believe he said, "Fuck it" and he just chopped something out and sneered, "That's good enough." No. This again is an example of that push and pull between garage roots and enough pop sense on how to play what where. The song lyrically takes a turn into a snarky intelligence that is rampant on this album.

At 12 tracks, there are plenty of good songs on this album. And a few great ones at that. But overall, there is still that extra kick that is missing. And from what I can tell, it has to do with rhythm and dynamics. The songs all feel like they are at the same tempo and don't vary greatly enough in dynamics. Most are comfortable mid-tempo rock songs that verge on rowdiness but never quite go there. And while leading a listener to believing the song is about to erupt and then pulling back can be good for one or two tracks on an album, it gets old when that formula is used on majority of the album. I kept waiting for songs to burst forth. Garage-nfluenced up-tempo songs can still have a mature quality if done correctly. And Hooton Tennis Club have the chops. They just played it safe.

All in all, Highest Point In Cliff Town is a fun ride as a first album. But sometimes you have to sacrifice a little fun to really dig deep. And isn't that what we all have to do when we "grow up"? Accepting change and diving head first into the abyss can have its payoffs. And when you do arrive at that strange place, it doesn't mean you should start anew. Instead, take what you already know and use it to your advantage and as a weapon in your arsenal. Once this band gets more tours under their belt, it will be exciting to see the direction they take their music.

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