There’s a theme park in the South of England called Paultons Park. I’ve not been there for quite some time. But, for a couple of years when my son, Ollie, was not yet ready to graduate to the more extreme rides of larger and more expensive theme parks (Alton Towers), he’d clutch his cuddly owl toy tight as we had some fine, happy times on the gentle rollercoasters and water rides on offer. This was the Nintendo DS of theme parks.The strapline on the advertising at that time was ‘you’ll have a hoot hoot at Paulton Park’. We always did.
I guess it’s inevitable that I’d be drawn to a band called ‘The Hoot Hoots’ though I’m pretty sure that any similarity between them and the strapline of a theme park in the South of England is pure coincidence. The Hoot Hoots hail from Seattle and offer up a brand of fuzzy, geek-fuelled power pop that I probably obsessed over a bit too much when Ollie was younger (it’ll explain his love of Gangsta rap now!).
The Hoot Hoots released a new album, Colorpunch, in November of last year. I saw no reviews of the album; there was no blogger buzz and no PR push. This week, I was fighting with an ironing pile and listening to a random stream of music when a track came on by the band. It caught my ear; I’m not averse to being distracted when completing such a mundane chore but nonetheless, this had my full attention. I wondered if The Shins might have released something new.
A sneaky peak at Bandcamp and Colorpunch has accompanied me on my travels this week. It’s an exuberant album and it’s difficult not to raise a smile when listening. The Hoot Hoots don’t always go for obvious topics in their choice of songs. Opening track, In The Air, places lead vocalist and guitarist, Adam Prairie, behind the cockpit of a plane. His instruction is done and he’s flying solo for the first time. Given the bands stated love of video games (they challenge other bands to Mario Kart competitions on their FB page) we might never know if this is a flight simulation or reality. I’m not sure it matters. Elsewhere, there’s references to super-heroes, fantasy fighting and rocketships.
But, I’d hate to give the impression that this is an album that’s detached from the real world. It’s not. We’ve got songs of incredible tenderness within; songs that express the different stages of relationships with stunning simplicity. In ‘See You’, one of my favourites, Adam is in that space where he wants to spend every waking hour with his muse. “I don’t want a world where I can’t see you , I don’t want a world where I can’t see you every day” he pines in the upbeat chorus. ‘Nancy’ is about the high school love that got away. In ‘Confused’, Adam’s in that lonely space at the end of a relationship, aware enough to know why things didn’t work but still wishing that a solution could be found so that he didn’t have to sleep alone.
I post a track from Colorpunch but also an early video from The Hoot Hoots. I think it’s a fine representation of the fuzzy pop world they inhabit. We should start a movement to get the Hoot Hoots to cross the Atlantic and play a show at Paultons park.