The urgency and viscera – both live and on record – that led Yorkshire-based five-piece Hookworms to prominence across two blistering full length albums, 2013’s Pearl Mystic and 2014 follow-up ‘The Hum’, remains. However, as they return with their much-anticipated third record ‘Microshift’, the band deliver a seismic shift in their sound, dynamic, songwriting and production.
Heres What The Press Are Saying…
The English psych-punks turn down the distortion and face their demons with a new, synth-y sound on their third album.
Feedback and distortion are the training wheels of indie rock—obfuscating agents that provide nervous upstarts with a sense of confidence as they face the public, secure in the knowledge that no one’s really going to be able to decipher what the hell they’re singing about. On their first two albums, Leeds quintet Hookworms rode those wheels down to the rim, whipping up a psych-punk squall that was heavy on the overdriven drone and extended meltdown fade-outs. You could sense they had an excitable, charismatic frontman in Matt Johnston (a.k.a. MJ), but his blown-out vocals often sounded like they were in competition with the garage-grimed organs and fuzzed-out guitars to see which could push the needle furthest into the red. Still, it didn’t really matter—by seamlessly melding that surface scuzz to adrenalized motorik rhythms, Hookworms had forged their own brand of stoner rock for people too wired to get stoned. 7.9 – Pitchfork
The whole ‘difficult third album’ thing is supposed to be about reaching a creative crossroads, or about confidence crises born of the anxiety that you’ve exhausted your best songwriting ideas in making your early albums. It’s also a bit of a cliché. The genesis of Microshift, however, does sound really bloody difficult, yet what they have produced is testament to their Yorkshire grit and how, three albums in, Hookworms truly embody the resilient strength of the human spirit. 8/10 – Louder Than War
It is always a fascinating moment when an artist steps out from behind a career-long shroud. For Leeds band Hookworms, you can understand why this was the moment. It has been over three years since their last record, a time that has been filled with frustration and tragedy. A North American tour hit the rocks when bureaucratic visa goblins struck and months later the home studio of keyboardist and vocalist Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson was flooded, leaving the band out of pocket and inspiration. MJ is one of the country’s most sought-after indie producers, so the setback was all the greater. 9/10 – Drowned In Sound
Hookworms recently revealed that with ‘Microshift’, they wanted “to make a record that when we played it would be euphoric.” This may seem like a curveball, especially after the turmoil Hookworms have faced over the past couple of years with the flooding of their recording studio and other personal issues that arose around the time.
However, with lead single ‘Negative Space’, this may just be the cathartic release they need. A sprawling LCD Soundsystem-esque dance-punk odyssey, the instrumentation of ecstatic synths and jubilant vocals on ‘Negative Space’ make for some of Hookworms’ best work to date. The band’s krautrock roots also still remain. With ‘Static Resistance’, which bolsters a flamboyant and exuberant performance from MJ, the Herculean ‘Ullswater’ and the post-punk ‘Boxing Day’ all exhibit the outfit’s penchant for creating intricate and driving psych-rock. 8/10 Clash Mag