Album Review: Marika Hackman – I’m Not Your Man

By on Tuesday, 13th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Marika Hackman album coverWith her debut ‘We Slept At Last’, Marika Hackman found herself being lumbered in the same boat as Laura Marling et al. While folk music was certainly slathered over the album, there was always that trademark Marika touch. Returning with ‘I’m Not Your Man’ this month, Hackman has thrown the past all out the window and gone for a sound that is certainly more suited to her deadpan and, at times, scathing commentary.

Enlisting London indie quartet The Big Moon, a band who are already making a name for themselves in their own right, to help execute this new sound has more than paid off for Hackman. Case in point, the album’s lead single and first track, ‘Boyfriend’. It begins with a burst of laughter that then leads through to the clearly live sound that the singer/songwriter has been searching for. Jangling, swagger-filled riffs perfectly canvas the tracks in a fairly innocuous way, but the straight up subject matter is given away in the chorus. “It’s fine ‘cause I am just a girl / it doesn’t count / he knows a woman needs a man to make her shout” is delivered in a way that makes Hackman’s position as the ‘third party’ almost excusable due to the shortcomings of the boyfriend. This cadence and playful delivery that comes in after the chorus pits Marika’s attitude against her previous self, and this new Marika comes out on top.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyVBFCmTuUM[/youtube]

‘Good Intentions’ keeps the savagery on top form, with more jagged guitars and driving drums. The track goes along its way, hitting the chorus that delivers what it needs, to but leaves the actual to the post-chorus. It’s maniacal in all the right ways, leaving no stone unturned in its quest to fully grab your attention. ‘Gina’s World’ is a slow burning track that trundles along until its closing crescendo, while ‘My Lover Cindy’ is another riff-led and pleasing number. It’s at this point that the album might feel a little bit hard because you’ve had some fight and grit, but then it feels like Marika’s heading back, loosely, to debut territory. ‘Round We Go’ slows things down, a wandering number with a warm-sounding guitar pattern, setting the scene for the two following tracks, ‘Violet’ and ‘Cigarette’, with the latter of the two done bare bones acoustically.

It’s once ‘Time’s Been Reckless’ hits that you understand why things have played out this way. Out of nowhere, confident and brash chords ring out, with an attitude-filled bass line filling the gaps between the ringing chords. The chorus, in all of its glory, is absolutely fantastic. “1,2,3,4, tell her that you love her more” is echoed by The Big Moon, who are fully utilised on vocal duties. Entwining with Marika’s leading lines by backing up or just straight up switching the viewpoint of the song so the lyrics are aimed at Marika rather than the other way round.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ddHIqq8bu0[/youtube]

Slowing once more with ‘Apple Tree’, the acoustic number even includes a soft horn accompaniment. The simplistic nature of the track is further accentuated by what follows. ‘So Long’ uses complex drum and bass patterns to create a driving force for the song that eventually leads to the song’s outro and focal point, a constant refrain of “I’ll keep you in my bed tonight”, where the vocals being swirling around each other and layers build up to create a heavenly sound. ‘Eastbound Train’ takes on a similar stance to its titular entity, with a rolling drum pattern giving traction as the power is gained by the multitude of guitar.

The last two tracks on the album go back to the slower side of the proceedings, but here it doesn’t feel too shocking. ‘Blahblahblah’ pushes along, helped by a string accompaniment, while finale ‘I’d Rather Be With Them’ is a heart-on-sleeve acoustic number that neatly ties things up. When it’s put into context with opener ‘Boyfriend’, you realise ‘I’m Not Your Man’ is a journey of thinking and emotive realisation. Life is filled with as much dry humour as it is slow moments, so it’s only fair they’re represented musically.

‘I’m Not Your Man’ is a strong record by all means, though at 13 tracks, some moments can feel a bit stale when compared to the stronger tracks such as ‘Time’s Been Reckless’ or ‘Boyfriend’. But ultimately, this album was Marika proving that she has the ability to turn whatever comes into her mind into a statement delivered in a wry and sultry way. The slows are slow, and the heavies are heavy, it’s a little bit of everything and more than worth jamming the repeat button on for.

8/10

‘I’m Not Your Man’ is out now on AMF / Sub-Pop records. To read more coverage of Marika Hackman on TGTF, go here.

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