Review Summary: I'm fine, I promise...
A lot can be said about Hookworms’ quirkiness and seemingly fun-loving nature, what with all those glitch-like production decisions, psychedelic atmosphere, upbeat vibes and jolly song-writing. It is the first logical conclusion. All the apparent, in-your-face goofiness and joyous attitude simply makes you believe in the album’s inherent positivity, especially given how vibrant and electrifying some of the harder-hitting moments are. But one listen after another I kept coming off of this feeling a slight unease. There was just this distant sense of hidden pain and disillusionment behind walls of merry good time fun moods and the waterfalls of twee eccentricity.
There shouldn’t be any doubt about the happy-go-lucky nature of the record, and yet as the opener “Negative Space” starts incorporating the vocals, suddenly you feel a distant desperation and urgency within. A cry for help only proven by the heartbreaking lyrics.
”In a negative space, I wanna leave it
Turn around right as you're leaving
The cruel mistake, I can't believe it
You can't trust now that you're not breathing”
“Static Resistance” is the cut, where the vocals gain on intensity and explosive despair, while “Ullswater” presents itself as more of a grounded pop effort. Although both of these songs have moments that encapsulate the masked chagrin like the opener, but it is first “The Soft Season” that actually fully delves into it, but now not even hiding the sorrow. It is the most sombre and quiet song on the album and the distraught vibes on it are simply salient. But that kind of aesthetic is repeated on the album, be it on echoic and ethereal “Each Time We Pass” or on peaceful and blissful “Reunion”. But those don’t have the negative underlying merit to them and come off more as at peace and in soulful balance.
Really, everything after the charming “The Soft Season” and the more aggressive and frisky “Opener” seems like it suddenly grew out of its initial hidden sadness that was so apparent on the first half of the album. Each song after is rather relaxed and lyrically tranquil, mostly going into a little less explosive dynamic and more into poppy, almost shoegaze direction. It creates a certain narrative of someone first pretending to be okay, but really being absolutely broken inside, but eventually coming in terms with the sorrow and learning to move on. But move on he did only by becoming phlegmatic and apathetic due to fatigue the previous sorrow caused him, as the lyrics on the closing track, “Shortcomings”, do suggest: “Found a way to love around. I am tired out”
and the frequent refraining chants “Disconnection, disconnection”
. It is a full tale of all stages of grief in every musical form.
P.S.: Is it just the Spotify version that has a defect or is “Boxing Day” actually literally unfinished"