The shift in UK rock to favour the underground has been spoken of time and time again, but its slow movement to the fore is one that’s making serious waves. Just look at Loom, the Leamington Spa outfit whose earliest releases included a covers cassette of Bad Brains, GG Allin and The Jesus Lizard, and yet who found themselves supporting The Rolling Stones at their enormous Hyde Park show in 2013. Alongside early support from both Zane Lowe and Daniel P Carter, the underground rumblings this band have been making have all coalesced into this self-titled debut album.
And while this is a particularly strong debut that thankfully sees Loom capitalising on the furor around them, it’s also an album in which there’s very little to say about it. In terms of the post-punk that crosses into the rougher end of garage rock that’s been been picking up a lot of steam lately, Loom pick up on that sound well, with the ragged, squalling guitars of tracks like Leopard or the unkempt solo on Bleed On Me forming the necessary foundations for a listen that’s simultaneously uncomfortable, satisfying but disappointingly familiar at points. Loom have a tendency to repeat their own ideas which, for an album that’s as slight as it is at just over thirty minutes, can make this album feel strangely static and inert, particularly in tracks like Salt and Barbed Wire which seem to copy and paste the same grinding, buzzsaw guitar motif wholesale from other points on the album. It’s somewhat understandable – Loom are still a relatively new band finding their feet, after all – but there’s a niggling feeling that they opt to play it safe when they really don’t need to.
With that in mind, seeing Loom trying and succeeding at something a bit more off-kilter makes their cautious streak even more perplexing, as the potency this band are capable of when they fully let loose is quite staggering. The underlying aim is one of discomfort, and combining the efforts of the almost metallic grind of Nailbender, Slowly Freezing Heart‘s clashing guitars and tar-thick bass that twists itself the more it’s drawn out, and Tarik Badwan’s panicked shrieks on the lurking canvas of Seasick, Loom is seldom a settled listen. It’s even truer in the writing, with a heavy focus on intense, visual bodily detail on Lice and Salt that even dips its toes into masochistic territory on Nailbender and Barbed Wire. But with the intrinsically seedy nature of the instrumentation and Badwan’s vocals that manage to contort into whatever grotesque form the track demands, Loom have already got the art of keeping a listener on their toes on lock.
That’s why it’s slightly easier to overlook this album’s more repetitive moments. There’s clearly the ambition to branch out into new sounds, and the fact that Loom are being as proactive as they are and starting at such an early stage makes a few forgettable moments easier to swallow. And anyway, Loom are already proving themselves to be an exciting force already, highly expressive and surprisingly accessible to contrast again their bleaker inner workings. If this is the starting block for more experimental endeavours to come, Loom will only become more intriguing with time.
For fans of: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Idles, Queen Kwong
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Loom’ by Loom is released on 19th May on Silent Cult Records.