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Hookworms Pearl Mystic Review

Album. Released 2013.  

BBC Review

Leeds-based band’s new album delivers swirling psychedelia with contemporary bite.

Ian Wade 2013

Leeds-based five-piece Hookworms have been tagged as part of a new psychedelic movement, alongside the likes of TOY. That they’ve toured with Wooden Shjips and Peaking Lights adds credence to the categorisation.

Even Julian Cope has been moved to blog about them: "Do not miss this shoegazing Skynyrd, brothers'n'sisters," he wrote on the Head Heritage website. And the arch-drude knows all about the far out.

Add to these appealing introductions the fact that Hookworm’s members go only by their initials – “We’ve no interest in being celebrities,” says vocalist MJ – and it seems the outfit might be ready to resurrect their hometown as a home of spooks and freak-outs.

Pearl Mystic initially evokes the likes of Loop, Dr. Phibes and the House of Wax Equations, and even Spacemen 3 – albeit if the latter were rather less substances-laced. But there’s a lyrical richness here, too.

It’s this aspect that ensures that Hookworms are not a band simply to tune into and drone out to. Proffered are musings on battling depression, explorations of existentialism, and the depths of personal loss are plumbed – all just beneath swirling arrangements.

Away / Towards builds stunningly, propelling its way motorik-ly towards nine minutes, laying out the Hookworms stall perfectly. There’s anger at play, with MJ releasing frustrations as the track works itself into a cosmic lather.

Form and Function is another blinder, descending into almost white noise as it approaches its climax. It subsequently afterglows into i, which in turn bleeds into the evolving, almost soothing In Our Time.

The mantra-like patterns of organ whirl beneath Since We Had Changed comprise a cleansing yet cathartic menace, atop which is deployed more noise. Preservation shifts from psychedelia into a punkier, screaming fury – just in case you’d become too cosy amongst the bong-passing vibes.

What We Talk About delivers Velvets-y tones, while ii is akin to the soundscaping of early Pink Floyd. These parallels, and more, convey the message that Pearl Mystic is an album that’s somewhat out of time.

Yet it’s also very much of the now, too – as previous acclaim for its makers goes to show. Hookworms could become something genuinely astonishing in a few albums’ time, and Pearl Mystic is a fine foundation indeed.

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