Album Review: Marika Hackman - 'Any Human Friend'

Marika Hackman returns with her third LP, 'Any Human Friend.' In this offering Marika expanded her already strong repertoire and style, flourishing in the more experimental elements first seen in 2017s 'I’m Not Your Man.'

Before the release, Hackman shared three tracks from the largely self-produced record, starting with the upbeat i’m not where you are, and there is a mix of crunchy guitar tones and atmospheric vocals consistent throughout the record. The cascading synth motifs in the intro and chorus begin to hint towards the new expansion of her sound, with lyrics like the first line “I’d rather fall asleep than interact with me” suggesting an introspective attitude towards her new style of songwriting.

the one leans towards more of a pop sound, with the layered vocals and a groovy guitar riff in the chorus. The final single before the album was released was the song all night which is an overtly sexual tune from the get-go, another continued theme throughout Any Human Friend.

Image courtesy of Joost Vandebrug

This record is definitely the most synth-driven we’ve received from Marika. On the track blow for example, the droning synths that come in after the intro hint towards 80s pop. Some of the slower takes from the record like wanderlust, send my love and hold on offer nice pauses amongst the more energetic tracks. wanderlust - the album opener – is an explorative tune, the fuzzy acoustic guitar riff comparable to Radiohead’s Exit Music (For A Film). Hackman has stated that send my love is a break up song written from the point of view of one of her ex-girlfriends, and it stands as one of the more introspective cuts from the album. The distorted vocals in the outro are later repeated in the opening of the following track hand solo, a track which is laden with innuendo about masturbation and blindingly obvious references such as “When I'm alone (Onanism) / It's automatic, oh I dig for life in the eye of my thighs.

In the home stretch of the album we are offered one of the dreamier openings with the track conventional ride which sees the vocals pan in and out until the phaser-soaked drums eventually join the fray. Another track in the lead up to the finale of this record is come undone which boasts one of the most memorable guitar licks on the album, hanging over the verses.

The penultimate song hold on is distinctly reminiscent of Tash Sultana. The synths and drum machine on this track in combination with reverberated vocals create an ethereal soundscape, likely to captivate even the most cynical listener. Upon reaching the title track, we see a return to form; something that is not too dissimilar to her previous record with the added benefit of an improved and more experienced songwriter, enabling Hackman to cement her signature alt-rock-meets-indie folk style.

"hold on" creates an ethereal soundscape, likely to captivate even the most cynical listener."

All in all, this record is a solid addition to what was already a fantastic discography; listeners will be understandably excited to see what comes next. You can catch Marika Hackman on her UK tour later this year – the nearest show is in Leeds at the Brudenell Social Club on the 26th September.