6 Mar 2016

Hookworms / Hookworms [reissue] (EP review)

We started this blog in mid-2014, and our first album of the year was the incredible Hookworms sophomore album The Hum, it's menacing toothy cover every bit as unforgettable as the Leeds' bands' roaring 21st century take on garage psych, noise rock and psychedelia. Now, as 2016 looks to be a pretty big year for the band and it's members, they've released the 2011 Hookworms EP, the catalyst for their career as one of the British underground scene's finest artists, and they've brought some bonus tracks with them.

The EP is a 28 minutes in duration, four songs in length (on this edition it's now 40 minutes and 7 songs), and whilst it's unmistakeably Hookworms, it's meandering psychedelic songs are a far shot from the honed pop structures that made The Hum an uncompromising 40 minute blast that will be unforgotten by fans of noise for many blue moons to come. Frontman MJ's vocals don't waver in the ferocity they exert on Radio Tokyo and Impasse, but they blend into the mix much more. Instead of being a blast of noisey pop-song focused rock 'n' roll, the appeal of their debut EP lies in the fact that the band create a huge wall of sound that washes over you in the most mesmerising way possible.

The thing that makes this EP still a treat to Hookworms fans that maybe heard The Hum or Pearl Mystic and rummaged through their discography is the fact that it sounds like the same band doing something completely different - and everything is crazily good. With its thudding basslines which remain static in trajectory whilst wavering guitars pulsate and shimmer into your ears, on the original release what is the Side 2 opener I Have Some Business Out West is really something you can get lost in more so than any of the band's other material, whilst closer Preservation is a brown acid sprawl that spans most of side 2 with it's herculean guitar scratches and mammoth cymbal crashes.

The Side One is home to Medicine Cabinet, a swirling psych song that saunters through it's duration with a lot of guitar wailing and those trademark vocals, and although it's probably the least remarkable cut on the record it's still absolutely essential listening. It bops along, before seguing into the record's timeless masterpiece, Teen Dreams, which still makes the band's live sets and is the song that sounds most like the sound the band are masters of now. Bizarrely structured, it's a psych-pop nugget characterised by motorik drumming and drilling basslines that keep the chaotic psych of early Hookworms in place whilst the guitar parts and organ blasts attempt to power the song into the stratosphere, with some pretty incredible results.

Now, on the new edition, the original four songs are accompanied by non album singles and a krautrock jam from around that period, solving the problem the Hookworms EP faces of being really incredible but being over too quickly. The Correspondent is a solid track, combining some of the band's nicest tones with a sauntering rhythm that makes it almost ambient, darkly atmospheric in a really brilliant way. Deu is a previously unheard (well, if you bought the original EP on vinyl it came as a downloadable bonus track) 2 minute bit of krautrock worship, instrumental and motorik, it's a bit of a stopcap, but a really intensely brilliant stopcap that should ideally be rerecorded as a 10 minute sprawl. And closer Form and Fuction originally made it onto Pearl Mystic, but this more guitar based version sounds more satisfying, and like a natural and important part of the EP as Preservation bleeds seamlessly into it... these three songs aren't necessarily as crucial as the original four, but add to them in a way that's rewarding and just generally something good to have in your music library.

Hookworms put this out 2 years before their debut, and whilst it didn't receive the same critical attention that Pearl Mystic did, this is probably (nearly) just as essential. It's not as tight as their studio albums, but it's them doing a very good job of massive pulsating psychedelia in their own way... and you can't forget that if they put out another record, 2016 might be another year where the Leeds based 5 piece dominate everything.

EP score: 8.6/10

get the reissue HERE

(written by cal cashin)