Sunday, February 04, 2018
Album Review :: Hookworms - Microshift
February 2 2018 (Domino Records)
Words: Alison Mack
This, Leeds quintet Hookworms’ third album, was recorded following the great floods that befell Yorkshire in 2015 when Matthew (MJ) Johnson’s Suburban Home studio in Kirkstall was badly damaged, leaving much lost and much to consider for the future.
So this album coming almost four years after their last, ‘The Hum’, is built on both the passage of time, life experience and confidence, and it would appear, an urge to broaden their sound.
'Microshift’, therefore, feels both metaphorically and figuratively that a shift has taken place. There Is still the common theme of dark vs. light, but the passage from weighty psych is bridged by the introduction of lighter electronic elements. Opener 'Negative Space' is a good example of the dark and introspective (“Who can I trust / now you’re not breathing?” sings MJ with a passionate delivery) meeting the upbeat, 80s electro style drum machine rhythms.
One of the pre-flood numbers,‘Static Resistance’ is a sonic slice of arena-sized motorik drone, which the band have described as "a song about the wax and wane of depression and an eternal want to escape the life you’ve built.” The propulsive, sweeping ‘Ullswater’s repetitive bassline is harnessed around an electronic structure that reaches its climax of a chilling vocal of "I'll always love you/it's the last thing I'll say/I know it's the last thing I'll do. "
On the heartbreaking ‘The Soft Season', drone-like atmospherics nestle around a gentler, shining vocal, while the eight and a half minute ‘Opener’ provides a highlight point of synths, drums and guitars working in tandem.
'Microshift' sees Hookworms taking a big leap, yet it is also the band's most accessible work so far. Taking states of darkness, they have managed to eirk through a strand of hopeful light that makes this album a transcendant experience.