Hookworms - Pearl Mystic

A surprisingly immediate debut.

Label: Gringo

Rating: 8

The title ‘Pearl Mystic’ may make this sound like a long forgotten Chapterhouse b-side, but Hookworms are gazing at the stars rather than their shoes. The Leeds five-piece combine psychedelia, krautrock and gonzo rock ‘n roll to unashamedly epic effect on this surprisingly immediate debut album which should see them promoted from gigs in the back rooms of pubs to within touching distance of the mainstream. 

Opening track ‘Away / Towards’ is an excellent indication of the thrills that await the listener. Guitar feedback drones over a prowling bass line while singer MJ (no names, just initials) screams and shouts way down in the mix - so far, so psych. But at the three-minute mark, the song explodes into something gloriously widescreen and the whole thing careers towards an finale that sounds like Iggy Pop fronting Hawkwind. ‘Form And Function’ is essentially Spiritualized on uppers, as MJ yelps like Jagger over squalling guitars and a Suicide organ pulse last heard on ‘Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’.  

The album is interspersed with a series of tracks (titled simply ‘i’ ‘ii’ and ‘iii’) which are little more than ambient soundscapes but the real delights are to be found in-between. ’In Our Time’ is a stoned, languid groove that somehow manages to sounds like ‘A Storm in Heaven’ era Verve covering Primal Scream’s ‘Higher than the Sun’, whilst the frenetic ‘Preservation’ is MC5 relocated to West Yorkshire and fed through a wah-wah pedal.  

It could be argued that The Stooges, MC5 and Suicide are among the core texts of psyche-garage rock 101 and taking inspiration from them is hardly original. Yet few bands have managed it with such panache or swagger, especially on their first full release. Hookworms have just gone to the top of the class.