After three years of anticipation, D.C’s Nick Hakim has released debut album Green Twins. The Berklee College attenders’ previous work on the ‘Where Will We Go’ projects were tranquilising and comforting efforts; as would be expected from a Music Therapy student. In conversation with NME, Hakim said these previous EPs make you ‘feel like you’re moving in honey’ and indeed his smooth vocals resting on the tickling of an echoing guitar do create a feeling of weightlessness.
This is the album of an artist who has squeezed the juices of jazz, soul, R&B and neo-psychedelia and stirred it all into one vibrant, yet perhaps confusing cocktail. It could be argued that Hakim has at times tried to do too much within one LP, as sometimes the vast layering of these different elements seem to pull each other down, rather than accentuating each other’s presence.
The tone of this LP feels somewhat different to Nick’s previous work. The insular artwork, revealing a detached green eye, piercing its own reflection amid a green-tinted and desolate landscape. Hakim’s songs feel less like they’re swaying you back and forth in a hammock, whilst slowly fanning you with a palm leaf, but rather more urgent.
Usually a ceramic pebble being skimmed across the water, Hakim’s vocals on the single ‘I Bet She Looks Like You’ smash an open palm through the surface and spray the sentiment, ‘If there’s a God/ I wonder what she looks like/ I bet she looks like you’. This line has been perceived by many as an adoration lyric, comparing a lover to God, yet when it is held up against ‘You brought me here/ You could take me out/ What are you waiting for?’ it perhaps suggests that the artist is reflecting a deeper, more internal debate: the contemplation of a maternal creator. The essence of the unfamiliar and seemingly spiritual territory that this album encroaches upon is captured in the opening track ‘Green Twins’: ‘They will always haunt my dreams/ The green twins with your eyes’. However, there are moments where we see the albums lyrical content retreat into the field of love, such as the subservient and gentle request: ‘Whisper softly/ Tell me what you need’.
Green Twins is a layered piece of work, less sparse than his earlier sound, and is littered with sampled drum loops, orchestral backing vocals, and an eclectic mixture of other instruments. ‘Miss Chew’, featuring Jesse and Forever is interrupted by frequent outbursts of a jagged saxophone, whilst the listener is smothered by a tender piano throughout ‘Needy Bees’. Yet the signature rippling reverb heavy guitarwork remains, illuminating an inclination towards psychedelic material, and showing that he has not yet cut the umbilical cord attaching him to his prior work.
Overall, while Green Twins may have lacked simplicity in certain areas, which often serves to highlight his atmospheric vocals, Hakim has certainly produced an intriguing assimilation of sounds, which he can build upon, and be proud of.