Hookworms - Pearl Mystic - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hookworms - Pearl Mystic

by Andy Brown Rating:9 Release Date:2013-03-04

The giddy adoration made absolute sense when you saw them play live. In gig rooms across the country, Hookworms have been fine-tuning their sound, a band in a constant state of creative evolution. A couple of limited live EPs managed to track the bands progress before they released the brilliant 'Form & Function' (a split-single with Kogumaza) back in May. There's been a lot of genuine excitement around the release of their debut LP, and it's with a well-deserved sense of anticipation that they finally unleash the mighty Pearl Mystic.

All this and it's getting released by the consistently brilliant Gringo Records label. Hookworms have done Gringo proud and released an album imbued with all the energy, excitement and experimentation of their live shows. If you won't take my (or Charlotte Church's) word for it, then you'll just need to listen to opening track, 'Away/Towards'. The track builds around propulsive, Krautrock indebted grooves, SS building up walls of psychedelic noise while MJ throws everything into his vocals.

This is psych-rock played with the anger and energy of a DC hardcore band. While many psych-rock bands adopt a relaxed slacker approach, Hookworms are playing with an admirable sense of urgency. Next up, there's the swaggering 'Form & Function', a live favourite and an irresistibly thrilling slice of psych-rock. It's the answer to all the apathetic, listless TV talent show endorsed music clogging up the airwaves and it's fucking fantastic.

The album then goes into the first of three instrumental passages; the drones and warm feedback of 'I' drifting into the beautiful 'In Our Time'. This song shows the band's other side, it's steady, languid psychedelia proving utterly hypnotic. It leads into the equally mesmerising 'Since We Had Changed', the band's chants and shamanistic percussion pulling us further into their psych-rock stew. The slower songs in particular recall the ritualistic meditations of Iceland's foremost psych-rock innovators, Dead Skeletons. It's on record that you see how strong these songs really are, played with an attention to detail that only comes from people who are wholly immersed in music.

The band build up the tension again with the superbly unhinged madness of 'Preservation'. Possibly the closest to their live shows, 'Preservation' is just over six psychedelic minutes of head-nodding intensity. A second instrumental piece then leads into 'What We Talk About', a surprisingly gentle song which has some sweetly subtle guitar work coupled to one of MJ's more direct lyrics. We then get one last passage of instrumental drone before the album finishes and you're left sweating on the floor, clutching to the LPs sleeve for dear life. Peal Mystic really is a special album.

It's a thrill to listen to and a fitting document of a band completely absorbed in what they're doing. You can spot their influences throughout the album (Wooden Shjips and Spacemen 3 to name a couple of the most frequently quoted), but these are influences which have been absorbed with a genuine passion and admiration, not merely copied and regurgitated. A lot of blood, sweat and effects-pedals have gone into the making of their first long-player, but it's most certainly paid off. Hookworms aren't your fashionista's or 15-minutes-of-fame wannabes; they're a band that back everything up with a genuine enthusiasm because it's all they've ever wanted to do. And that kind of thing can be pretty contagious.

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