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Hookworms - Microshift (Album Review)

Thursday, 08 February 2018 Written by Graeme Marsh

Hookworms’ third album, ‘Microshift’, represents a change for the Leeds outfit. Here they emerge from beneath the mysterious shroud they previously adopted, with layers of fuzz evaporating and frontman MJ’s vocals, for once, clearly audible above the noise.

For this record, samples, loops, sequences and drum machine rhythms were workshopped at the band’s studio until ideas crystallised, with its lyrical focus falling on death, disease and heartbreak.

Clocking in at almost seven minutes, curtain raiser Negative Space is a masterpiece. There’s so much going on during its epic running time - from quirky Daft Punk-style keyboard sounds during a lengthy intro to its pulsating beat - that it coagulates into an atmospheric treat. Written following the death of a close friend, MJ’s words hit home: “I still see you every time I’m down.”

Ullswater tips across the seven minute barrier and is arguably even better. Its curious electronic sounds morph into a dance-inflected gem that sounds like New Order’s Bernard Sumner guesting on a Six. By Seven track. Its uncharacteristically sprawling guitar solo, meanwhile, ensures a spectacular finish.

Another track to emerge before the album’s release was Static Resistance, one of only two known by the band as “pre-flood”. That means they were written prior to the loss of MJ’s studio, Suburban Home, when the river Aire burst its banks in 2015. Its discussion of depression is underpinned by pumping bass and swirling organs, stemming again from their love of hyper-motorik beats. An atmospheric ode to a lost love, The Soft Season, completes side one, with percussion making way for minimalist serenity.

The chaotic Boxing Day features revved up electronica that nods to the Human League’s classic ‘Dare’, while Reunion offers a detour into sublime ambience. Closing out a snappier second side (following the eight minute synth beauty Opener) is Shortcomings, a song where Wooden Shjips-like keys lead to perhaps the most radio-friendly chorus the band have ever put out.

With two top-notch albums - ‘Pearl Mystic’ and ‘The Hum’ - already under their belt, Hookworms have delivered a modern day classic in ‘Microshift’. Poppier and more refined, it exceeds all we could have hoped for from this excellent band.

Hookworms Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri February 09 2018 - LONDON Rough Trade East
Sat February 10 2018 - BRISTOL Rough Trade
Fri February 23 2018 - LIVERPOOL Invisible Wind Factory
Sat February 24 2018 - BRIGHTON Patterns
Fri March 02 2018 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sat March 03 2018 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sun March 04 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
Fri March 09 2018 - MANCHESTER White Hotel
Sat March 10 2018 - MANCHESTER White Hotel
Sat March 17 2018 - GLASGOW Art School
Sun March 18 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Cluny
Sat March 24 2018 - LONDON Electric Brixton
Sun March 25 2018 - SHEFFIELD Picture House Social

Click here to compare & buy Hookworms Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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