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Marika Hackman - Any Human Friend (Album Review)

Monday, 12 August 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

‘Any Human Friend’ is Marika Hackman’s third album and first since splitting from fellow musician Amber Bain, who performs as the Japanese House. Possibly because of this, it’s a record drenched in carnal intrigue and lo-fi ennui. That said, the music is tidy and poppy—don’t be misled by the cover. 

i’m not where you are (the song titles are stylised in lower case) is a track that typifies this approach. It has marvellous lyrics of stunning self loathing and heart-wrenching intimacy: “I'd rather be asleep / Than interact with me / I don't get what you see.” 

It would be easy to liken this song—and the album more generally—to a certain racist Mancunian miserablist, but it actually more neatly recalls the mid 90s work of Michael Stipe with R.E.M., and new listeners could be forgiven for thinking Hackman is American. 

The sound of the record, and her voice, often seem to occupy an alt-indie space that has been focus grouped by record executives at a label that is neither independent nor particularly alternative. And yet this is frequently compelling music that does not pull its punches.

Another stand-out is the one. This song has a marvellously floaty lyric with tremendous drive and a tricksy, nimble pre-chorus. Again, the lyrics are tremendous, melding self effacing sadness with a kind-of verbal slapstick: “Love me more / Rub me 'til my ego is raw / I've got BDE / I think it's a venereal disease.” In case you wondered, ‘BDE’ stands for ‘Big Dick Energy’. 

‘Any Human Friend’ has flashes of brilliance, and Hackman is clearly a ferocious talent but it really isn’t consistent enough—a good example of music in a similar space done more convincingly is Mitski’s ‘Be the Cowboy’ from 2018. Still, she is treading her own path and this LP presents a tangible development from her previous two albums. It just feels like there is more interesting music to be found somewhere along the line.

Marika Hackman Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat September 21 2019 - BRISTOL Thekla
Mon September 23 2019 - GLASGOW Oran Mor
Tue September 24 2019 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Wed September 25 2019 - MANCHESTER Band on the Wall
Thu September 26 2019 - LONDON Islington Assembly Hall

Click here to compare & buy Marika Hackman Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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