First up, this record is going to be in some folks top albums of 2018, so writing only a fairly okay review is definitely going to annoy some of those people. That’s not to say that Microshift, the third record from Manchester five-piece Hookworms, is a bad album. It’s just a frustrating one.
There are some great moments. The first track and lead single Negative Space is a perfect example of how great Hookworms can be. Channeling psych rock with glitchy synths, it sports a driving rhythm that captures a great, live feel. The next track however, Static Resistance, reminds me so much of To Earth With Love by Gay Dad (remember them!?) that I’m brought back down to earth (sorry) with a late nineties indie/dance crossover bump.
In keeping with the album, I’ll jump between the good and the bad. The track Opener, with its drawn-out intro that builds a sense of mood and atmosphere, does all the right things. It makes me want to go and see them live. It’s engaging and at over eight minutes there’s enough to really get in to. It’s these parts, which also appear on Negative Space and Ullswater, that show Hookworms and this album in their best light – focused, direct, and exciting.
Contrast that with the Postal Service-lite Each Time We Pass and overly breath-y Mercury Rev-tinged The Soft Season and you end up with record starkly divided into high and low points. Unfortunately, the track listing is as such that as soon as a great song plays, it’s almost inevitably followed by a slow-burning segue song which reinforces my frustrations with the album.
As a (lazy) rule of thumb for Microshift, if the song is almost six minutes long or more, it’s great. If the song is short, and really short, well, you get the idea.
Microshift is out on Domino Records on Friday 2nd February 2018.