Hoops began life as frontman Drew Auscherman making ambient music in the bedroom he grew up in, carving out a solo existence based around Oneohtrix Point Never’s ‘Replica’. You could never tell that was the case now, however, with three of his friends having helped build his songs into something completely different.
‘Routines’, the Bloomington, Indiana four-piece’s debut, is full of sunny slacker-pop that shares only a few similarities with the band’s starting point - largely, how blissfully chilled out it is. It’s an album that can only be described as languid, chiming guitars unhurriedly layering up over crisp drum beats and softly purred words about life and love.
Sometimes, Drew’s voice is buried in the mix, a distant echo that makes you listen closer to try and pick out what he’s singing. On ‘Burden’, he’s loud and clear, front and centre, making the song’s jazzy guitar lines take a backseat as he firmly insists “No, I don’t wanna be a burden”. Later, on ‘The Way Luv Is’, he’s less sure of himself as he ponders confusion of the heart, telling his crush “If I saw you now, I’d probably keep my eyes to the ground.” Like his feelings, his voice is foggier than on other parts of the record.
Elsewhere, there are bursts of energy (‘On Top’’s woven guitars, the vibrant pace-lift of ‘Management’) and near-instrumentals (the supremely lethargic ‘Sun’s Out’, the glistening synths of ‘Benjals’, the mellow and melancholy ‘Worry’) that add some diversity to the record and keep from meandering into boring territory. ‘Routines’ isn’t an album that’s going to change the world, but it is a pretty good reminder to stop, slow down and take things in once in a while.