Hoops were friends before they were a band. Even without looking into the band’s backstory, you can just feel it all over their debut album Routines.
The Indiana-based act crafted an album that sounds like the exact opposite of their home state, the sun-drenched synths and noodling guitars could easily soundtrack a windows-open drive across the Sunshine Skyway bridge or along A1A on Florida’s opposite coast. Coming from four dudes raised in a place that is still currently experiencing grey skies and temps in the low 40s, Routines seems like a communal fantasy. It’s a riff of a made-up place to escape to, between friends who are impossibly locked in and showcasing the sort of chemistry that an improv troupe would kill for.
“It’s always nice to be in a group like this,” said guitarist Kevin Krauter when we spoke to him about the band’s new album. “It’s just kind of hanging out with your buddies and not giving a sh*t. There’s no ice to break. There’s no pretense, but there’s also no courtesy.”
Krauter said that notable lack of bullsh*t really comes through when the group get in the studio together. While the group started out as a solo project of vocalist Drew Auscherman, and owed more to the icy textures of Ohneotrix Point Never than the sun-dappled indie pop of Routines, it has warmed as he loosened his grasp on the project and allowed his longtime friends to join the band.
“Tha’s the advantage we have,” Krauter said, adding that Auscherman was “glad to step back from the role of sole writer.”
“When we come together, it all flows pretty naturally as far as songwriting goes,” he said. “We can all kind of put in material that works mutually for all of us.”
That sense of forethought and connection is clear throughout their debut. Though Auscherman’s vocals are buried in the mix with a charming bit of lo-fi fuzz, every sound on the album screams with intention. There is not a hair out of place on this decidedly laid-back album. Tracks like “Rules” and “Management” play like a well-thought out Instagram post of your favorite stars on a beach, it’s chumminess and joy masking the craft underneath.
While Krauter says there is no set sound for a Hoops song, he makes it clear that all of the band’s members have a pretty strong idea in their head for what a Hoops song should be.
“It’s not something that I kind of have a formula for it,” said Krauter, who works in other projects outside of Hoops. “I don’t sit down like ‘Okay, I’m gonna to write a Hoops song.’ But at the same time, when I do it’s very obviously a Hoops song.”
And Hoops songs are very obviously good. Check out the debut album up below and pick it up now via Fat Possum.