Marika Hackman’s two albums to date couldn’t be more different if they joined opposite teams in a battle pitting chalk against cheese. While ‘We Slept At Last’ was an intricately crafted journey in shadowy folk and pastoral imagery, the follow-up sees thought playing second fiddle to bold impulse. It’s deliberately littered with muttered asides, accidental mess-ups, and the occasional studio fuck-up, for one. Fern Ford - stick-wielder for The Big Moon, and drummer on ‘I’m Not Your Man’ - even scoffs “that was a terrible take” at the end of one track. Throwing off the cloak of metaphor, and tackling sexuality, flaky behaviour, overpowering lust, desire, and confusion with a sharp, acerbic tongue, this is also the sort of album lesbian poet Sappho might’ve made if she’d been born a few millennia later, and fronted the Breeders.
A fair majority of ‘I’m Not Your Man’ sees Marika Hackman amping up the raw feelings that clearly inspire her writing, and then embellishing for comedic effect. “Do you prefer her bed?” she challenges atop ‘So Long’’s pulsing bass line. Far from being a jilted dumpee, Marika (or rather Marika’s Shane-from-The-L-Word type alter ego) is pissed off, but also content with being right; “I’ll keep you in my bed tonight,” she adds for good measure. Initial jaw-drop moment ‘Boyfriend,’ meanwhile sees her having it off with somebody while their boyfriend’s back is turned. “It’s fine ‘cos I am just a girl, it doesn’t count!” she simpers mockingly, taking aim at heteronormative bullshit in the process. And on ‘My Lover Cindy,’ when she declares “I’m a lousy lover, even if I try” (backed by a chorus provided by a gleeful The Big Moon) bets are on everyone grinning away as she sings it.
Musically, too, this is a looser, less precious prospect than her debut, and though hints of her starting roots remain - in the sinisterly humming strings of ‘Round We Go,’ or the hushed first moments and surrealist metaphors of ‘Violet’ - things quickly transform, and head down an untrodden path. Witty, sexy, confident, and charged with live energy, ‘I’m Not Your Man’ is the sound of Marika Hackman making the album she always needed to make.
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