Pearl Mystic

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The Leeds quartet known as Hookworms don't go much for publicity -- there's no photo of the band on the album cover and the members go by initials instead of names. Still, it's pretty easy to figure out where the group's coming from right away. They grab bits and bobs from the great noise rock pioneers of the last 40 years (the Velvet Underground, Neu!, Loop, Spacemen 3), mix them up deftly, and spit out a fiercely dramatic sound on their debut album Pearl Mystic. It alternates between songs that build into impressive blasts of short-circuiting guitars, smashes of cymbal hiss, and over-the-top vocals that sound like they were extracted painfully from the singer's throat against his will, and those that dip their toes into an oceanic calm and use noise to lull you into a trance that's caressed by controlled feedback and much more tenderly pitched vocals. The contrast between the two isn't as harsh as it might sound and the group ties the songs together so well that they tend to flow together perfectly. Most impressively on the mini-suite at the beginning of the album, when the feedback trails left over from the ferocious "Form and Function" turn into the ambient haze of "i" then bleed right into the rumbling, tensely coiled "In Our Time." The entire album flows this way, going from lofty heights of wigged-out noise to sub-aquatic moments of peaceful reflection with an ease that belies their age as a band. You may not know anything about Hookworms by their own design, but after one listen to Pearl Mystic, you'll know that they've crafted an album that deserves to be heard by fans of the bands they borrowed from, and anyone who likes their music to take them on a noisy, unpredictable, and thrilling trip.

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