Nick Hakim new album sees him once again adjusting the perimeters of a genre that he has come to define in recent years.
Will This Make Me Good [WTMMG], Hakim’s fourth release, takes a step back from the lustful, melodic verse found on critically acclaimed Green Twins and a step forward into the experimental unknown. R&B and neo-soul elements, that are fundamental to Hakim’s alluring sound, are still pronounced, albeit grounded in themes that incite a more abstract and profound tone. The exploration of a range of subjects, from grief and depression to community and overstimulation combined with an experimental DIY soundscape lead us down an articulate, energetic rabbit hole.
‘All These Changes’, the album’s opening track, perfectly reflects the shift in contextual direction. A scene of a changing world, where to survive we must all grow scales, is painted in Hakim’s distinctive, enthralling tone. The ambiguous “she” throughout seems be in reference to a raging mother earth who is rapidly losing hope in humanity- ‘she will drown us, she is raging, growing pains, hope is fading’.
Titular track ‘WTMMG’ confronts the issue of overmedication and is the literal and metaphorical beating heart of the album. Layers of distorted vocals and over a thumping pulse amass to create an erratic track that transports you to a dazed and confused state that reflects the chaos that can ensue when trying to deal with the world’s and ones own problems simultaneously.
Tracks such as ‘Bouncing’, which focuses on feelings of unease, and single ‘Qadir’, an ode to a late friend, permit the exposure of an under current of nuanced details. The depth of each track gives this album an extra edge on Hakim’s previous work, encouraging you to strongly focus on each song in order to unlock their full potential.
Mellow, romantic melodies, which adhere to a similar structure so perfectly executed on Green Twins, do make an appearance at the end of the album. ‘Seeing Double’ meanders around the difficulties of self-love whereas ‘Whoo’ oozes in appreciation for a loving, supporting relationship – ‘I stopped abusing myself around you’. They offer some relief from the darker topics
As much as WTMMG is a personally directed project, Hakim does the majority of production and most songs seem to be birthed in one cathartic take. WTMMG is also a collaboration, with Hakim enlisting input from his plentiful list of musical friends; including Mac Demarco on ‘Crumpy’. On this point Hakim states that; ‘This is my world; a lot of friends touched this record…these songs are glimpses into my community’.
Hakim also describes the album as ‘a journey in process’. Some tracks, particularly ‘Drum Thing’, could be more polished and the range of instruments and exploration of sound does create a dissonance on some tracks that can at first be overwhelming, but after repeated listens you realise that this is what gives the album longevity.
The depth of WTMMG means that it cannot be taken on face value. This may discourage some listeners but those that persevere may find some solace in an articulate and soothing album by an artist simply trying to find the perfect way to express the confusing times we live in.