Review: Hoops – ‘Routines’

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As we approach the summer months, easy listening is back and prepping us for spending our days lounging by the water (or on our rooftops). Whether you’re at Santa Monica Beach or drenched in sweat gazing at an awesome city skyline, Hoops should be on your summer playlist.

Just one year after the release of their self-titled EP, the band has reemerged from the depths of dream pop with their debut record. The warm embrace of lead single “Rules” made Routines one of the most anticipated indie releases of 2017, and the band did not disappoint. The record defines Hoops’ sound and solidifies them as a force to be reckoned with.

A close cousin of fellow pop artists Best Coast and Cults, Routines is a sun-soaked, lo-fi treat that is set to make a mark on its genre, tapping into that toes-in-the-sand summer feel that seems to exist in a subgenre on its own. While beachy vibes are not exactly what you’d expect from four guys who’ve spent their lives in Indiana, they make it work.

The record is charmingly minimalistic without being repetitive. This might be a product of the band’s unorthodox songwriting methods; rather than having a designated lead singer, whoever wrote the song will provide vocals for the track. Couple that with a signature reverb-laden guitar and mellow, fuzzy vocals, and you’ve got yourself the perfect sunny day soundtrack.

The album opens with the appropriately titled “Sun’s Out,” a synth-y, bubbly track that sets the tone for the rest of the record. Another thing you’ll find is that Hoops are keen on major chords; their happy-go-luck attitudes shine in their music. Their optimism is revitalizing in a time where indie bands too frequently harp on the same melancholy themes.

“Benjals” is a short instrumental piece with playful drums and a general feel-good vibe. We can only assume the track derives its name from a “Good Neighbor” sketch in which SNL cast member Kyle Mooney gives a satirical take on men who like sports. The theme of the sketch is much like that of the album – lighthearted and endearing while maintaining an air of truth. “Underwater Theme” is the most melancholic on the record, a chilled-out tune that creeps along at a steady pace without losing its whimsy.

With their delightfully sentimental seaside sound, Hoops are a modern day equivalent of The Beach Boys. Still, there are elements of Routines that could easily be attributed to British new wave bands like The Smiths and The Cure; elements like filtered vocals and seemingly effortless musicianship. Bassist Kevin Krauter once explained to us that the band feels most comfortable making music in his parent’s basement. It’s this authenticity that sets Hoops apart and makes their music as fun to listen to as it must have been to make.

7/10

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