Hookworms - The Hum - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hookworms - The Hum

by Steve Reynolds Rating:10 Release Date:2014-11-10

It’s hard to believe that Pearl Mystic was released just over 18 months ago. Since that time, the instruments have hardly had time to cool down as Hookworms are already back with their follow-up, The HumBesides recording this sophomore album, the band have cemented their formidable live show, reaching out to the uninitiated and slowly creeping out from the underground to become one of indie’s brightest in 2014. 

So what’s to expect from this new long-player? Well, the sound isn’t a huge departure from what made Pearl Mystic so instantly likeable. However, this time they come armed with a sense of unbridled confidence, added muscle and traction that amounts to the size of the UK’s national debt.

Opener ‘The Impasse’ is a ripsnorter of a beginning, finding singer MJ in a particularly cathartic mood. His tortured yelp is much more heightened than previous recordings and the band follows him. The guitars are quick to attack, along with the droning keys that swirl into a maelstrom of messy and discordant noise. Current single ‘On Leaving’ sees the band more sedate and playful.  There is a rolling but slow-building opening and, after two-and-a-half minutes, the dots join together perfectly to make possibly their most accessible song to date.

‘Radio Tokyo’ gets a droning introduction from ‘iv’. MJ seems to almost retch; he puts so much welly and effort into his idiosyncratic delivery. It’s redolent of when Brian McMahan from Slint was allegedly hospitalised such was the intensity of his vox on ‘Good Morning Captain’. 

The expansion of the band’s breathless, bellicose approach continues on the mind-bending ‘Beginners’. The guitar work is phenomenal here along with the motorik drums and hypnotic organ drone. It rebukes the one criticism of Pearl Mystic, that it lacked some consistency in the middle part. It demonstrates the band’s great leap forward over the last year, with stronger and better songs in their repertoire.

‘Off Screen’ takes the heat out of the situation. It falls at your feet like early Ultra Vivid Scene clashing with the vanguard of shoegaze. A haze of woozy, grappling guitar and synth weighing in at over seven minutes, like a less harsh-sounding Fuck Buttons but with all the right ingredients to make it just as brain-crushingly good. ‘Retreat’ closes out the album and ups the tempo once again, this time tempered by MJ’s least acerbic tongue, letting the rest of the band do their respective stuff with assured aplomb. 

Hookworms have upped their game big time on The Hum, to such a degree that what they do next could just surprise us again. I will be amazed if this album doesn’t appear in most people’s top 10 of the year, such is its insidious and incandescent brilliance.

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