The artwork displays the environment of an almost-adult. Small attempts at making a kitchen a home, potted succulents on the window – though one has toppled over on the table next to the ashtray. The sink is full of dishes, and a cucumber abandoned mid-chop at least suggests an attempt to look after oneself. Dotted across the kitchen and adjoining bedroom (though given the age of our subject it’s likely a bedsit) are members of London’s The Big Moon, collaborators of Marika Hackman, who released the stunning ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ earlier this year. On the wall hangs a piece by Tristan Pigott, artist, friend of Hackman’s, and designer of the revealing and intimate cover art. It’s a snapshot of a young woman, getting there, figuring it out, and collaborating with her peers.
Biting and funny, Hackman’s third LP moves away from any sorrowful twee tones that might have been present on previous efforts. This time around, Hackman and band have honed a concoction of brit-pop guitar styles with alternative pop hooks. Opener Boyfriend pairs a sleepy descending vocal chorus hook with fuzzy vibrato, and describes Hackman’s relationship with a spoken-for-gal. Singing ‘It’s fine ‘cause I am just a girl / It doesn’t count’ with more than a wink, this is a cutting vignette of straight bros the world over.
Hackman’s caustic tongue is balanced with moments of real vulnerability elsewhere on the record. Cigarette is a particularly striking collection of scenes familiar to those in deteriorating relationships; images like ‘when did it get so forced / drunk by the second course’ and ‘cry and pretend you care’ are backdropped by a delicate acoustic guitar part, and sung with desperate fragility.
Elsewhere, the record is bursting with energy, raw electric guitar tones, hearty laughs and small mistakes. Violet is the standout track here, with Hackman’s piercing lyricism illustrating a desperate, wicked love. Atmospheric, and a little spooky, Hackman and The Big Moon build a gorgeous soundscape which stretches and creaks to a gorgeous harmonic juncture. Hackman is a forceful songwriter, but it is here on ‘I’m Not Your Man’ that her musicianship is really brought to the fore. From harmonies to fuzzy electric guitar solos, to contrapuntal melodies and addictive pop hooks, Marika Hackman has curated an LP with both immediate cultural significance and musical longevity.