If you’re the kind of freak that finds hope in the dystopian, then welcome: London doom-monger Heartworms – the project of Jojo Orme – could be your new favourite band of the year. Produced by the Midas touch of Dan Carey (Wet Leg, Slowthai, Fontaines D.C.), Orme’s debut EP is released on his Speedy Wunderground imprint and arrives to a whirlwind of hype, thanks to the attention Orme has garnered for her military-inspired melodrama.
When Manic Street Preachers wore their mismatched military uniforms as part of the campaign for their 1994 masterpiece ‘The Holy Bible’, they represented the fragments of a horrorshow century spat back out. Orme, who featured in the NME 100, is singing from a similar hymn sheet – drawing from The Cure’s ‘Poronography’, OG post-punk and 20th Century Doomsday poets – but ‘A Comforting Notion’ is entirely her own.
Orme’s been vocal in her obsession with WW2 history; she volunteers at The Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, and is the only buzz act at SXSW this year to have their own custom Airfix model Spitfire coming out. That’s kooky and cool and all, but there’s something raw and fantastical here; something powerful to cling to that the recent wave of post-IDLES punk has lacked.
“Ugly is the man – he’ll chew his eyes,” squawks Orme on the gothic explosion of opener ‘Consistent Dedication’, before ending on the repeated mantra of “endlessly mad” – laying the black-on-black motif of William Burroughs’ paranoid fiction on nice and thick. ‘Retributions Of An Awful Life’ mashes up Interpol, Siouxsie Sioux and Trent Reznor to paint an opulent but cut-up scene of battle where “these aren’t even men, just losses – hands of evil touch colossus”, before the title track slowly stalks a dimly-lit path with Orme trading heavily in a claustrophobic, nightmare spectacle.
The closing ‘24 Hours’ is a journey through the “sick condition” of adult life; ironically playful in the generosity of lyrical and sonic ideas on offer. It all builds into a mighty crescendo of searing rock, before jolting end to a much-needed wake-up call.
There’s a real depth to Heartworms’ music that matches the image, and proves her to be a true and powerful outlier of her time. It’s quite likely that Heartworms will never fill stadiums, but she could change your world. ‘A Comforting Notion’ feels urgent and important, brimming with all the promise of the next great cult act.
- Record label: Speedy Wunderground
- Release date: March 24