by Ryan Doyle Elward
Hookworms’ The Hum rips out of the hazy grasp of previous release Pearl Mystic revealing scalding fuzz, and a raw, roiling set of vocals in opening track “The Impasse.” By the second, “On Leaving,” a consistent groove evens the turbulence, eliminating all save for organized, distinguishable instrumentation. Lyrics “I figured it out” and “nothing stays the same” coincide with themes of minimalism, highlighting which elements of Hookworms’ arsenal should stay, and which should be shed as they steadily progress. While traditional aspects of freak, psychedelia existed in their earlier work, as Hookworms grow a unique branch of the genre beautifully emerges. This time around, a kind of spunky step works into the mix. As a whole, The Hum doesn’t feel quite as sonically spacious, which was a welcomed atmosphere for the last album, but it is pleasing to see the group depart from the familiar.
Bursting and melodic, the middle of the album pops with juicy numbers such as “Radio Tokyo,” which sounds as though it could fit alongside a Richmond Sluts’ organ anthem. In contrast, the Velvet Underground approved “Off Screen” proposes lulling, blissful sweetness set to a slower pace.
Despite the notable changes, this third release still hosts lengthy, undulating psych epics, and soft, contemplative interludes. After a once through of the album, it becomes apparent that all the ingredients of previous material are at play, but represented confidently and with greater focus. Two prominent examples being the style of percussion, which smacks of early punk, and the new display of vocal mannerisms now heard uncovered, and set in the foreground.
Lyrical references from tracks like “The Impasse,” and “On Leaving” appear in the final song, “Retreat,” giving the impression of a story being told, one which spans the throughout the entire discography thus far. Perhaps this comes as a conscious effort, as though their arrival at such a driven force as The Hum was in clear sight from the start. Eagerly, listeners await the next evolution for the group.