Hackman goes explicit and electronic on excellent third LP
Jessie Atkinson
11:25 5th August 2019

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With her first new music since 2017’s I’m Not Your Man, Marika Hackman released a curveball with the dancey ‘i'm not where you are’ back in April. The album it teased - the brand new Any Human Friend -  builds on that new, bolshy aesthetic with poised production and some of her best - and most carnal - lyrics to date. On Hackman’s third full-length, slick electronica joins acerbic, smutty lyricism for a truly excellent, explicit indie pop album.

Opening with the gentle tones of ‘wanderlust’ Hackman throws it back to earlier days - days of the folksy We Slept at Last - before a time warp sucks the listener into a new world of wall-to-wall electronic sounds and frank poetry. ‘the one’ dips and weaves with the pleasing sound of Hackman’s guitar; present always, regardless of the genre she’s exploring.

From here, we find ten songs that quickly establish Hackman as a songwriter with the skill to write cogently about longing and sex not only with her guitar, but with a computer, synth and drum machine too. A songwriter with the skill to do pop as well as well as she does folk.

‘all night’ is a stunning ballad to all-night-shagging, making sultry, precise use of percussion, while the equally knowing ‘blow’ chugs along with the distinctive sound of an eighties synth and shocks of electric guitar.

Hackman’s acerbic lyrics remain a clear identifier through the computerised sounds: Any Human Friend is unmistakably hers. Here, poetic double-entendres run wild, every corner of the record receiving licks of paint from one of music’s sharpest tongues. “Rub me ’til my ego is raw” she sings on ‘the one’; “under patriarchal law, I’m going to die a virgin” on ‘hand solo’ which, by the way, is a beautiful anthem about wanking. 

More explicit than ever before, certainly, but also a recognisable continuation from the tongue-in-cheek I’m Not Your Man.

The production work is slick. ‘hand solo’ benefits from a lovely guitar’s touch, before veering into the vaguely unhinged tones of ‘conventional ride,’ and then the funkier romp of ‘come undone’, never straying from the aural apogee the record reaches on track one.

Several songs on this album prove that Hackman can write a chorus not only for a folk or an indie song, but for something decidedly more pop too. ‘send my love’ adds an angelic vocal hook to a sparkling, halftime soundtrack, while ‘the one’ melts with voice-changing bridges. And of course, there’s ’i’m not where you are’, which stands out still with its ethereal backing vocals and lusciously layered mix.

It’s a giant leap from We Slept At Last. Now, Marika Hackman doesn’t sleep at all: she favours shagging, wanking, and writing songs to get up and dance to. Welcome Marika Hackman: pop star and sex icon.

Any Human Friend is released on 9 August 2019 via AMF Records/Sub Pop.

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