Following her critically acclaimed 2011 eponymous debut, Hollie Cook returns with the ethereal and toe-tappingly catchy ‘Twice’, which is due for release on Monday 12th May 2014.
Album opener ‘Ari Up’ is a bright and bouncy tribute to the late lead singer of punk band ‘The Slits’, of which Cook was a member during the early noughties, and sets the tone for an album full of deep rhythmic bass and angelic vocals. ’99’ follows with the lyric “Remember 99 on the beach where we lay” perfectly capturing the summer sound of this smooth and memorable track. The Bond-like strings that feature heavily throughout the album are provided by the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra and tracks like ’99’ and the glossy, velvety ‘Desdemona’ really utilise the obvious talents of these masters of string.
Cook is also joined on the album by Dennis Bovell, Omar, George Dekker and Winston Francis but it is the vocals of Cook, who has described her sound as tropical pop, that make the album flow like the calm ocean that you find yourself sat beside as you are whisked off to a paradise island, which is also aided by the beach sound effects at the conclusion of ’99’. Cook has a gentle, serene voice that effortlessly glides over each track with such a pure and radiant prowess that it is easy to see why Ian Brown asked Cook to support The Stone Roses on one of their hugely anticipated reunion shows at Manchester’s Heaton Park in 2012. ‘Superfast’ is a standout track located on the second half of the album, as the catchy, melodic and hypnotic hook entices you into a welcoming trance that sees Cook put you under her spell with an enchanting chorus you’ll be repeating long after it’s conclusion.
The production on the album, courtesy of Prince Fatty, provides the perfect soundtrack to Cook’s delicate vocal with each track given a mesmerising bassline that hooks you in instantly and the wide ranging mix of instruments used, from the steel drums on ‘Postman’ to the sparkling harp on lead single ‘Looking For Real Love’, ensures that this album pushes the boundary of the genre to such far reaching limits that some of the electronic arrangement wouldn’t seem out of place on a Daft Punk album.
‘Twice’ is a reggae album for the 21st century; whilst its roots lay in the traditional elements of the genre, the varied and diverse instrumentation means that this album has cemented itself as the standout reggae album of 2014 so far. With an obvious love of reggae and two exceptional albums under her belt, Hollie Cook could well be at the forefront of the UK scene for a long time to come and if this most recent offering is anything to go by, long may she reign.