Album: Hookworms – The Hum
By Jamie Bulman
Released 11th October
Weird World/Domino Records
Leeds rockers Hookworms are a truly collaborative effort. By choosing to be named by their initials as individuals, the band shuns the ‘rock-star’ trope in their ego-free, DIY, improvisation-led compositions. It is rare in the days of the radio-friendly single and the shuffle-friendly album to hear records with such a sense of unity, feeling like a polished jam that just happened to be picked up by an array of microphones. The all-guns-blazing energy of The Hum is balance by ambient noodlings, tying the whole album into a fuzzy free-flowing whole. This builds on, and largely imitates the critically-acclaimed formula of their previous record, Pearl Mystic.
The lo-fi vocals sound as through they were recorded through a builder’s radio turned up to 11, blending seamlessly with the instrumentals. Drums are full and drive the whole album along like a freight train at breakneck speed. Guitars are dynamic and colorful. Organs and synths are crystalline in their contrast. The resulting wash of sound is underpinned by a bubbling energy, threatening to boil over at any moment into anarchy.
‘The Impasse’ opens with an oscillating wave of synths that are quickly pushed aside by a cacophonous, head-banging groove with screaming, distorted vocals. ‘Off-Screen’ offers a moment of respite with some beautifully delicate vocals over subtle percussion and a melodic bassline, and smacks of classic shoe-gaze bands such as My Bloody Valentine. The album closes with ‘Retreat’, a cheerful, almost surfy tune which is stark in its contrast to the rest of the record.
This album is great for all the same reasons we loved Pearl Mystic—great contrasts between convoluted noise and crystal clear melodies, screaming punk and sensitive vocalisings. Hell, it could have even been recorded in the same session. And therein lies my only criticism: it is difficult to observe any real development in what by all accounts is a great aesthetic. Be excited for the record to drop and give it a listen, but if you’ve heard or loved Pearl Mystic, don’t expect a challenge.