Line up the stylus, drop the needle and await the crackle. The album’s opener, ‘Impasse’, is by no means, as the title suggests, a sign of progress ceasing; this is the phoenix arising from the ashes of its predecessor. Beginning with a flutter, this is an animal reborn.

four stars hookworms

Side A

Unlike their first full-length effort, Pearl Mystic (2013), there is a deliberate enhancement of melody and fluency. Not to say that PM was disordered and unmelodious but The Hum comes through much more focused, sharp, and even poppy at times (‘Radio Tokyo’). ‘On Leaving’ is The Velvet Underground meets seminal krautrockers, CAN—a Jaki Liebezeit drum beat if there ever was one—singer, MJ, leaves in his trademark penetrating and silky vocal holler for what is one of the album’s most well balanced tracks. ‘IV’ is carefully constructed out of the cacophony of feedback from the track prior; turning itself gently into ‘Radio Tokyo’, bringing side A to an end.

Side B

Put the kettle on, get comfortable, flip the record, and play Side B. The beautiful madness of ‘Beginners’, abounding with choir-like harmonies, gradually dissipates and seamlessly melts into the lethargic soundscapes of ‘V’, ’Off Screen’ and 'VI'. Such flawless transitioning is a thing of great splendor that can only be enjoyed when listening to an album in full. It’s the kind of album that will translate so well to being played live in this exact order. But the songs will sit just as comfortably amongst their elders, perfectly complimenting one another in their hypnotic adroitness. 

Finally, and in quite opposite a fashion to the beginning of the record, The Hum resolves with, quite aptly, ‘Retreat’. Though disappearing from sight with a chord progression so euphoric, they leave us valiantly.

The Art

The Hum - Hookworms

If cover art was any way to tap into an overarching sound of a band (without judging it by it’s cover of course), the blurred, over saturated figure that fronts Pearl Mystic very much represents its haze of instruments layered to eternity whereas the black and white, slightly hypnotic, imprint for The Hum (designed by the band’s own JW) suggests exactly that – a decisive, black and white wave that stirs one’s perception but is pleasingly laconic.

Pearl Mystic - Hookworms
Pearl Mystic album cover

In a recent interview with art and design publication, It’s Nice That, JW affirms this importance of cover design saying, “It’s all about appropriateness and conveying sound as image”. True to how this album sounds and JW’s artistic inspiration, both are “beautifully minimal […] and are perfectly balanced”.

Key Tracks: ‘The Impasse’, ‘On Leaving’, ‘Beginners’ and ‘Off Screen’
Also Listen to: Modern Lovers, Savages, CAN

Listen to this month's playlist:

Read more articles by Andy Richardson here

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