Forget everything you know about Hookworms. Ok, maybe not everything; the urgency and viscera both live and on record that led the Yorkshire-based five-piece to prominence remains. However, as they return with their much-anticipated third record Microshift, the title of the record connotates more than just the intended nod to the audio plug-in their vocalist MJ regularly uses.
Microshift is the Leeds band’s first new work in over 3 years and marks a seismic shift in their sound, dynamic, songwriting and production, whilst still bearing all the ferocious energy, intricate musicianship and bruised but beautiful song-craft of the previous releases which have quietly made them one of the UK’s most revered young bands.
There’s far more to Microshift than just rock band going electronic. The fact it’s here at all is a relief after a series of setbacks for the band. Most publicly, the minutiae of the US visa system caused the expensive, last minute cancellation of an American tour, while on Boxing Day 2015 the River Aire floods in Leeds devastated MJ’s Suburban Home Studio – not just the rehearsal and recording space of the band, but home to the producer’s livelihood itself. The incredible response to a GoFundMe campaign and the subsequent help of volunteers over several months, rebuilt the studio from nothing. Striving through this as well as relationship breakups, family illness and the death of the band’s close friend and live sound engineer, it is perhaps no surprise that the record is one of both defiance and darkness.
“All our records are to an extent about mental health,” comments MJ. “Largely this is an album about loss but also about maturing, accepting your flaws and the transience of intimacy. The words have always been the last thing I finished, whereas this time many of them were written sooner,” he adds.
The band has pulled off a triumph against adversity, a comeback with what they may see as a Microshift, but is in fact a massive step forward.