Album Review: Nick Hakim - Green Twins

If you were to describe something to me as “Nick Drake meets early 90s hip hop,” I’d tell you that either sounds like a fucking trainwreck, or the most amazing thing ever.

That descriptor is pretty much how Stereogum is touting Nick Hakim—an esoteric singer and songwriter who just released his debut full length, Green Twins; the cover art alone screams Pink Moon. However, Hakim, despite his best efforts, is not “Nick Drake meets early 90s hip hop” and Green Twins is neither amazing, nor is it a fucking trainwreck.

It is rather slow moving album that falls into the spaces in between.

Green Twins is not necessarily a bad album, nor is it good (or even super memorable.) It is a record that thrives on those juxtapositions—throughout its running time, Hakim arrives as neither being completely derivative, nor totally original, culminating in a sound that you’re okay with listening to, but it’s also something that you probably could have lived without hearing.

Following the release of two EPs, Hakim inked a deal with ATO, and opened for Maxwell—and the fingerprints of modern r&b and soul are all over this thing. Haikim owes a ton to both Maxwell, and D’Angelo, in moments like the howling “Bet She Looks Like You” (the album’s finest moment, actually), as well as the soulful and cavernous sounding “Those Days.”

But it’s not just “neo-soul” that Hakim is tapping into, or 1970s British folk, or 1990s hip-hop; at times, Green Twins sounds an awful lot like a chillwave album that arrived, you know, like seven years too late—the warbled and whimsical “Roller Skates” being the prime example of this. And overall, with how densely layered and reverb heavy the album is, it kind of just comes off sounding like generic, idiosyncratic “indie” music—like Tame Impala, for example.  

And, unfortunately, for that depth of sound in the music, there is little, if any, depth to the lyrics. Green Twins is a relatively emotion-free listening experience, leaving you feeling nothing as it concludes.

The amount of work that it probably took to make the album sound like this, though, is commendable, and it certainly shows what a deal with ATO and a few years growth can do for a young performer—there is a lot more going on here on Green Twins then there was on his two EPs, released in 2014. But in adding tracks on tracks, it doesn’t necessarily always pay off: the frenetic drum sample that runs through the second half of “TYAF” doesn’t exactly fit with what is happening in the rest of the song (maybe that’s the point), but it’s jarring to hear, making it one of the more difficult songs to slog through.

Green Twins doesn’t lack ambition, and it doesn’t so much collapse under the weight of those ambitions, but it also doesn’t fulfill any kind of promise to the listener. Hakim is young enough that he may continue to grow into his role as a singer and songwriter, and possibly find some more focus on what kind of sonic palate he wants to work with. But until then, his debut is nothing more than a summer time soundtrack for the fedora wearing, PBR drinking crowd who want something fun and hip (and ultimately disposable) to listen to for their rooftop party.

Green Twins is out now on all formats via ATO.