Leeds stalwarts Hookworms’ third studio album, available on CD and vinyl via Domino. After the banks of the River Aire broke in late 2015, the band’s studio was devastated. The repairs that took place over the course of the next year were only made possible by altruistic voluntary work and online donations. That community effort displayed in the face of tragedy is no doubt the source of a pertinent blend of euphoria and tension present on the record. A more synth heavy affair than previous efforts, MJ’s modular features much more prominently, and collaboration with local synth nut Richard Formby guarantee an interesting listen!!
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- WIGLP423X / Limited Deluxe Edition 180g black vinyl LP on Domino, with printed inner sleeve, printed PVC outer sleeve and download card
- Includes download code
8/10 Robin Staff review, 31 January 2018
Phew. Sounds like they worked hard on this one? Calibrating the forward momentum cheat codes of motorik with real, pop sheen can't be easy. On their clearest, most accessible record yet, Hookworms sound like individual worms bringing what they know apart, together. It trances like never before, but sheds psychedelic inclination in favour of a total embrace of anthem: opening with “Negative Statement”, a super-emotional tune that winks at both Factory Floor and Foals, this record feels like liftoff for a band who’ve been cautiously tinkering with euphoria.
It’s kind of glorious, this mix of the restrained and unabashed -- “Static Resistance” has the whirring synths and pent-up rhythm section of your favourite electronic psych trendsetters, but MJ’s vocal combines with a minute change to sun-blast the record into territories of bliss parallel in New Radicals’ “You’ve Got The Music In You”. It is unbelievably fun -- every band of this setup should be on a course this enigmatic.
Which isn’t to say that the record doesn’t exist in subtleties, too: “Ullswater” has an arpeggiated synth-line that bounces as niftily as one of MB’s XAM Duo configurations, but it’s given a pop song with immense call-and-response vox overtop. “The Soft Season” is a deserved U-turn, writhing with the band’s sci-fi sound bluster but rerouted for a solo organ hymn that falls to earth like an experimental version of the band fun.
I’d hope you’d be too busy getting high on the unexpected joy of this record to care about its twists and turns out of conventional Hookworms, but you can still listen to the bits you like, too: “Opener” is not the opener, but it does involve band pal Richard Formby steering the band into a streamlined motorik jam that balances their melodic bent more formally with the tight psych structures. It’s marvellous, because it sounds as bright and beautiful as the rest of the record -- it talks back to the record's near non-existence with chants of "we can help each other", referencing the flood that destroyed the band's Leeds studio three years ago. That is honestly beautiful.
Who knew a psych rock record leaning in hard on the synths could actually be so moving? Oh.
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