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ALBUM REVIEW: HOOPS, ‘ROUTINES’

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Hoops
Routines

Fat Possum Records


Voted Most-Likely-to-Score-Your-Summer by me.

Bloomington dream pop outfit Hoops debuts their first full-length commercial album, Routines. Featuring some of the band’s catchiest melodies yet, it’s no accident that this shimmering, chilled-out LP arrives just in time for the summer heat. Fat Possum recommends margaritas, and I couldn’t agree more.

What to Expect

  • Catchy-as-hell melodies
  • Moody vignettes of hot days, contemplative nights
  • Tight, punchy grooves
  • Hazy, dream pop ambience
  • Existential and romantic angst
  • A shameless-yet-tasteful saxophone outro

Stand-out Tracks

  • “All My Life”
  • “On Top”
  • “The Way Luv Is”
  • “Benjals”

Coming off of a series of successful cassettes and a breakthrough 2016 EP, Hoops has refined their melodic, moody sound into something focused, purposeful, and sincere, conjuring a clearer picture of their sonic vision. The band presents a unique fusion of dream pop, chillwave, and yacht rock that lets genuine introspection shine through a hazy veneer of fun.

Hoops manages to alchemize familiar vignettes of an idle and listless summer into perfect situational scores — day tripping in the sun with the windows down, wasting light in the shady A/C of your buddy’s apartment (or worse, an office), lying awake on your back on top of the blankets hoping that you’ll get it right tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear these songs backing upcoming TV, film, and commercial media. Lyrically, themes of heartsickness, romances-gone-wrong, and subverted expectations abound, giving the misty vocals the throughline that solidifies the moodiness of each track.

Routines expands upon the dreamy, ambient indie and power-pop sounds of the last few years, but also channels plenty of 80s yacht rock charm via drum samples, glossy guitars, and tight, punchy grooves. Hoops manages to distill these sounds into a signature voice that leans heavily on the controlled musicianship of its members. Each musical voice gets its time in the sun, which makes sense considering the group’s versatility and intra-rotational lineup. There’s even an instrumental track, “Benjals,” that testifies to the group’s ability to create noteworthy spaces where the listener can sink into the song and let the music intertwine with their inner monologue. While some might call this type of experimentation filler, the song’s inclusion reinforces the band’s strength at creating reflective moods with instrumentation alone. I say, “kudos.”

There are plenty of memorable moments on the record. “All My Life” and “The Way Luv Is” stand out as some of my favorite hooks since “La La La” from 2016’s Tape #2, reminding me that Hoops are capable of writing some of the stickiest melodies out there. Routines marks a new high for both Hoops fans and Hoops as a band, and positions the band for even greater artistic and commercial success. Nice work, fellas.

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