It's funny how you meet some people, isn't it? I can't quite recall exactly how I ran into MJ, but I started following him on Twitter after a while, and he'd become an integral part of my feed before I even realised he was in a band. It turned out that he was one-fifth of Leeds-based group Hookworms... and the rest, as they say, is history. It's been a year, give or take a week or so, since then, and I'm no closer to figuring out why they only want to be known by their initials - but I digress. Along with MJ, there's also MB, JN, SS and JW. They put out an EP, and it was VG. It still holds up well today, and it contains four songs that didn't make Pearl Mystic, so there's a tip for you if you end up liking the album as much as I do and wanting to seek out their other stuff.
Remember when The Verve were still good and there were no acrimonious break-ups on the horizon? Some of the album is reminiscent of the band at the peak of their powers, though you won't find a 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' on here; the band don't deal in pop hooks. They prefer slow-building songs like the ambitious 9-minute opener 'Away/Towards', which slowly fades in amongst ringing feedback and chiming bass notes, soon becoming locked into a motorik groove, its driving rhythms and general sense of chaotic abandon easy to get swept up in. 'Form and Function' features a deceptively simple melody and some infectious call-and-response vocals, which are nonetheless slathered in reverb, because instrumental texture is what matters most on an album such as this - which is why the song segues into a goosebump-inducing slab of shoegaze-y noise, the first of three instrumental tracks on the album, helpfully titled 'i', 'ii' and 'iii' and helping it to flow better, because the other six tracks that surround them benefit greatly from some breathing space.
It may seem like an easy comparison to make, but people discovering the newly-resurrected My Bloody Valentine would do well to investigate Pearl Mystic, as it is cut from similar cloth, though often has a krautrock feel to it and features clearer production, which helps things to stand out more. The woozy, mid-tempo 'In Our Time' showcases the quintet's (slightly) more restrained side, while 'Since We Had Changed' hints at a potential future in post-rock for them. It can be easy for bands of this ilk to get bogged down by choosing to opt for style over substance, but Pearl Mystic is a rich record that reveals more of itself with every listen. Meet Hookworms - you're better off with a band like this in your life.