Dec 06, 2022
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By Michelle Dalarossa

One of the most distinctive qualities about Nick Hakim’s music is its fluidity—it flows freely between R&B, indie, psychedelia, and more to create a unique strain of experimental soul that takes shape in sultry ballads and dusky ruminations. The Washington, D.C.-born artist’s latest release and third studio album with ATO, COMETA, is no different, inviting listeners into a multi-genre space suffused with intimacy that feels immediate and otherworldly. But by treading familiar ground, Hakim stays firmly planted in the same lyrical themes and sonic atmospheres he’s always inhabited, showing little creative development.

Like much of his previous work, COMETA sees Hakim orbiting around the subjects of love and romance at their most tender and smoldering, using shifting motifs and glinting melodies to produce tracks that are emotive and warm to the touch. At his best, Hakim creates immersive soundscapes that conjure surreal settings—dusty, warped guitars and astral synths on “Ani” make it float like helium; echoing drips and snaps on “Only One” evoke an empty tunnel on a rainy night; and the languid synth solo of “Perfume” feels like it’s transmitted underwater. Above all, though, it’s Hakim’s husky voice that colors each track, guiding them from one mood to the next with an ease that glides.

COMETA’s bright points are the same tried and true characteristics that have propelled Hakim through almost a decade of releasing music, and while they shine no less brightly on this record, they remain nonetheless markers of stagnation. This lack of development extends to COMETA’s lyrics, which make attempts to exalt love but become exhaustive by the tenth and final track about love, loving someone, and making love. Perhaps the closest to depth that Hakim gets is on the confessional “Something”—“I need to learn to forgive…/Lusting for a feeling that means something.” It’s one of the album’s only moments of raw vulnerability, but it gets easily lost in the lyrical monotony of the tracks before and after it.

Hakim has a knack for crafting songs that burn slowly and steadily, and while they lack the depth and development needed to reach a full fire on COMETA, fans of Hakim’s previous work may still find the gentle glow of his latest effort enjoyable. (

Author rating: 6/10

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