This is the 'classic' debut album Leeds psych man band Hookworms. They purvey a kind of heads down, no nonsense kraut boogie which borrows as much from Neu '3' as it does Status Quo 'On the Level'. Moving way into the modern age, it's the kind of album no Spacemen 3 fan should be without. Heavy psych wibbling for all the family.
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Finally, it’s here! The record you’ve all been waiting for ever since that first EP/mini-album dropped on Sun Ark, Leeds’s very own Hookworms have their debut full-length LP ‘Pearl Mystic’ out on the ever-reliable Gringo. Recorded at his own Suburban Home studio by Hooklord MJ, the quintet have taken their time to craft an absolutely monumental debut album of crisp kraut grooves, wah-drenched guitars, sweet metronomic repeato bass licks, and Farfisa organ with MJ’s tape echo-drenched yelp sitting on top as the tracks swell and recede in a hypnotically grooving blur.
It’s pop music in a sense - certainly very accessible, with head-nodding rhythms and hooks which refuse to dislodge themselves from your mind after a couple of listens through a swirl of BJM-ish psychedelia run through with Spacemen 3’s trance-inducing focus and precision. However this does seem to be somewhat an album without a single, drifting between its lengthy songs with passages of churning drone and ambience from which the tracks emerge - it’s a complete listening experience, with the listener left in no doubt that it’s intended to be listened to as a whole rather than chopped into its component songs, which vary from anthemic call-and-response in ‘Form And Function’ to slow-drifting psych dreaminess in ‘In Our Time’ and ‘Since We Had Changed’, to the foot-stomping psych pulse of rocker ‘Preservation’ which alternates between tensely pulsating verses and an explosive chorus slathered in Headsy wah (oh, and there’s a cheeky ‘Coronation Street’ keyboard lick in the intro), before setting us down softly with the warmly affectionate but achingly sad musical farewell ‘What We Talk About’. To use a well-worn cliche, “it’s a musical journey”.
With krautrock and psychedelia being back on the ascendancy there’s been a bit of buzz around these lads in recent weeks, and it’s nice to feel like it’s happening to the people who deserve it for a change. Perhaps there’s a little bias here since living in Leeds I’ve pretty been following these lads from day one, but by anyone’s standards ‘Pearl Mystic' is an extraordinary piece of work, and sure to be remembered fondly for years to come. Of all these excellent young repeato indie combos doing the rounds right now - Cold Pumas, Mazes, Sauna Youth, Kogumaza, Mugstar, etc - this lot really do stand out as being something particularly special. If they were the Justice League, Hookworms would be The Flash.
9/10 Critical John Customer review, 2nd February 2015
OK, so I didn't buy this when it was originally released. I read a Times review of The Hum which persuaded me to buy it. As usual, I then needed to own everything by Hookworms so I bought this gem (pearl?). If you don't own it you should buy it now. Your review is a little on the short side and clearly not worth £10 - please say a bit more! (500 characters minimum.).......Crikey! I'm a man of few words and only one character, what do you suggest? I could drone on about the music and make futile comparisons to other bands but the only one that springs to mind is King of the Slums.
6/10 Bertrand Customer review, 15th August 2014
First up I just want to say that Hookworms don't really make sense to me except as a live band. I've seen them three or four times now in a variety of settings from small gigs to festivals and they never fail to impress. In the flesh, their brand of energetic psyche hits all the right buttons for me.
But on record they have not lived up to the promise of their stellar debut, and I would have to agree with the reviewer here that the most mystifying thing about 'Pearl Mystic' is the unfeasible amount of hype the record received. There are most definitely highlights. 'Away/Towards' is an excellent opener, and Hookworms are skilled in the declining art of knowing when to bring a psyche album back down to earth - as on 'In Our Time'. But the overall effect of is a bit deadening. By the time 'Preservation' kicks in I invariably find that my attention is already lost and no amount of MJ screeching over the top is bringing me back.
Here's hoping the third album goes back to the things that made 'Hookworms' (beg / borrow / steal a copy on vinyl if you can, you won't regret it) such a thrill.
7/10 Martin Customer review, 31st December 2013
Am I the only person on earth right now who doesn't seem to think Hookworms are the best band ever? With the amount of hype for the band, and specifically Pearl Mystic, at the moment you'd expect the musical equivalent of the second coming. Well. I came to the album with high hopes - bit hard not too when well known websites are calling it "a record that embodies perfection", "best British psychedelic record since the 1990's" and all that jazz. It seems like the mere mention of Hookworms can make your average listener faint with excitement. It was always going to suffer from hype to a certain extent, but unfortunately, in my opinion, at least, this has a fairly bad case of it. It's not a record that's hard to get into, but neither is it a sing-along the first time you hear it sort of album. It strikes a good medium between depth and catchiness, which means if it's sort of thing, you'll probably like it straight away and then continue to like it more and more after every listen. It tried to give it a good chance, I really did, but it just didn't do to my ears what it seems to be doing to everyone else's. In fairness, there are some prime moments on this album. Preservation is a noisy, chaotic Krautrocker which has more than a bit of dreamy spacerock, shoegaze and even a little punk about it. There's also no doubting that when he goes for it, MJ (they prefer to be known only by initials) is a ballsy vocalist who gives some of the album’s less exciting moment the punch they need, but at it's best it rocks hard enough for fans of heavy psych, while remaining dreamy and spacey enough for fans of the more outright experimental side of psych. I get the feeling they'd be excellent live - their own, fairly unique brand of energetic, feisty krautrock should be fantastic on a stage, and when they get it right, it's great on record too, it's just that they don't seem to get it right enough of the time.
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