Words by Jesse Serwer—
It was LargeUp creative director Martei Korley who first turned me, along with the rest of the LargeUp braintrust, onto Hollie Cook about three years back. Martei being our resident authority on all things lovers rock, I was inclined to take his recommendation regarding a young English singer he suggested was bringing a fresh but faithful approach to that vintage reggae style. We were instantly hooked by Hollie’s self-titled debut, naming it our album of the year for 2011 and declaring Hollie our favorite new artist.
As good as that first effort was, Twice is Hollie Cook on another level. The addition of lush strings adds a cinematic depth to the production of Prince Fatty, the UK producer who has guided Hollie’s sound through both projects. The frequent use of a cuica and other nature-conjuring sounds lend to the proceedings the feel of a B-movie set in a tropical jungle. (A theme solidified by the album’s Tiki-inspired cover art). But Twice is essentially an album about the confusion of falling in and out of love.
There’s no filler here: Each track is as good as the next. “99” and “Looking For Real Love” (watch the video here) sound as if they could be the theme songs to a pair of Roger Moore-era Bond movies. “Postman” has echoes of Compass Point Studios, the Bahamas facility where Chris Blackwell had Sly & Robbie working with the vanguard of Britain’s emerging New Wave in the early ’80s. There’s a timelessness to Twice that I expect will make the album only get better with age. The Lovers Rock sound at the core of Hollie’s first LP is still evident here, but Twice places Hollie Cook in a wider context, in the tradition of Lily Allen, Lisa Stansfield and Amy Winehouse, British females who’ve put their own stamp on vintage sounds, making them feel new and perfectly in step with their times.