Hookworms – The Hum
Surely an ironic title – for all the persistent drones of Hookworms’ second album, there’s nothing as soft or dull as an actual hum. For all their adeptness at textured subtlety, the Leeds quintet operate best at fever pitch. Storming opener The Impasse plunges wildly into choppy waters, rattling manically like The Fall gnawing off their own limbs, before collapsing into the dubby kosmische of On Leaving.
Undaunted, they get back up to deliver hypnotic psych anti-lullabies (Off Screen) and giddy scuzz (Retreat): a welcome flex of their impressive muscle. But whether resembling The Modern Lovers trapping Lou Reed in a headlock, or see-sawing between bloodshot pop and hazy soundscapes, there’s a sneaking sense of foreboding that reverberates strongest throughout The Hum; the sort of thing that shreds nerves and accelerates heartbeats. Creepy, but impressive.
If their debut showcased a tendancy to shroud vocalist MJ’s deranged squeals in obfuscating reverb, this time he’s foregrounded, giving proceedings a cleaner focus – indeed, songs take precedence this time, rather than exercises in slowly-mounting tension and delirious release. Those qualities haven’t been abandoned, of course; just further absorbed into Hookworms’ still-evolving concoction of intelligent noise and glorious psychosis. Get excited: one of the UK’s best bands just got better. [Will Fitzpatrick]