“It’s hot inside the ghost” quipped one of Hooton Tennis Club at Gullivers in Manchester at the back end of last month. It was a special Halloween themed night of music and the Liverpool lads were joining in the fun, dressed as spirits, clad in white sheets like the errant caretakers of so many episodes of Scooby Doo.
Zoiks! Hooton Tennis Club sound indie: they have jangling guitars, whimsical lyrics and are called something – something – club. My indie loving friend Beth would love them. I bet everyone has an indie loving friend who would like their EP: I Was A Punk In Europe (But My Mum Didn’t Mind).
As someone who goes to the bar when the indie songs come on in club’s I shouldn’t like this EP. But I do, mainly as Hooton Tennis Club channel the crisp, wholesome, twanging frolics of the poppier end of post punk, most notably Orange Juice. There is a dab of The Fire Engines, if that band had put their songs in a trouser press. Maybe a hint of the skittering neurosis of Josef K. Either way, Hooton Tennis Club sound dislocated from Scotland, 1980 (maybe they are ghosts). There is the ancestry of witty pop singers such as Pete Shelley, Morrissey, Wreckless Eric and The The’s Matt Johnson going through to the 90s with Jarvis Cocker.
Titles such as ‘Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair’ and ‘And Then Camilla Drew Dots On Her Knees’ belie the humour and observational warmth contained with the EP. Calling the third track ‘I’m Not Going Rose’s Again’, deliberately missing out the “the” places the song in the heritage of writers working with slang and vernacular, this is a very English little record.
The songs are short, fun and stacked with endearingly fey, slice-of-life lyrics. The guitars are sharp but the riffs support the songs in a very Johnny Marr-ish way. The rhythm section is subdued to the point of being subliminal. The vocals have an everyday quality which fits perfectly and the lyrics delivered with a wry panache. A refreshing and bright EP, full of vitamin C.
Those pesky meddling kids…