“I got so paranoid from repeated listening that I had to stop. I’d put so much into it, but couldn’t tell if it was good any more.” That’s Hookworms’ guitarist, MB, speaking about the Leeds five-piece’s thunderously emotional debut LP, ‘Pearl Mystic’, out early next month. Vocalist and producer MJ – whose Suburban Home studio we’re currently sat in – adds that he can’t really listen to it any more either.
Pointedly going only by their initials (“We don’t do this to be celebrity ‘names’,” they insist), the band are a brilliantly discordant entity. On the one hand, their irresistible motorik is as abrasively psychedelic as that of woozy counterparts Wooden Shjips. On the other, they’re totally pissed off – and they want you know about it.
“I can’t connect with bands who own a fucking rideable lawnmower while people play cricket in the background,” snaps MJ. “We grew up listening to old DC hardcore – bands who were DIY when it meant something political. And we meet so many bands now who just aren’t socially aware. I don’t understand their disengagement, there’s too much to be angry about. It’s so disillusioning that even in 2013, 175 MPs would vote against gay marriage, but our generation’s non-reaction to it is embarrassing.”
Such principles are why, they say, they’ve gone with tiny Nottingham indie Gringo Records rather than a bigger label. “I look up to them,” states MJ. “They ‘get’ the importance of engagement. We got shit for going with them, but when other labels go, ‘Why are you doing this? We’ve got more money’, I stop caring. Aspiration’s not why we’re doing this.”
The results of having such a hardline anti-apathy stance are laid completely bare on ‘Pearl Mystic’. It’s a record that reflects Hookworms’ thoughts on British society, as well as their place in it. It’s unquestionably a bruising listen at times – from MJ talking himself down off the rooftop on ‘Away/Towards’ to addressing an even deeper depression on ‘What We Talk About’ (“Death did not matter at all”, he sings, listlessly) – but importantly, it’s made by five people who are completely and utterly obsessed with dissecting Britain’s harsh social realities. The band themselves might not be able to listen to it, but you certainly should.
NEED TO KNOW
For Fans Of: Spacemen 3, Pissed Jeans
Buy It Now: Debut album ‘Pearl Mystic’ is out March 4 on Gringo Records
See Them Live: They play Leeds Brudenell Social Club on February 23 and tour the UK from March 30
On NME.COM: Stream ‘Pearl Mystic’ in its entirety
Believe It Or Not: Charlotte Church is a huge fan and asked Hookworms to support her recently. They declined