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(Credit: Subpop)

Marika Hackman reclaims female sexuality on ‘Any Human Friend’

Marika Hackman - 'Any Human Friend'

When the exquisitely beautiful We Slept at Last was released in 2015, Marika Hackman immediately became the folk scene’s darling. Her acoustic covers ‘Drown’ and ‘Ophelia’ deserved a big round of applause for their gloomy and deeply hypnotic nature. Things took a playful turn when Hackman dropped her second studio album I’m Not Your Man. Instead of sending shivers down your spine, it was a mischievous follow-up with a cheeky rock undertone. Songs like ‘Boyfriend’ – talk about stealing a guy’s girlfriend yet still being shrugged off because she wears a dress – have made Hackman one of everyone’s favourite queer heroine.

Two years later, the 11-track third album Any Human Friend gets truly personal and self-reflexive. The synth-infused single ‘i’m not where you are’ is a jingly self-deprecating announcement. “I’d rather be asleep than interact with me. I don’t get what you see ’cause lately, I’ve been trying to find the point in human contact.” Beneath its bright and joyful melodies, there lies confusion, conflict and self-sabotaging. If anyone were to take a liking to me, then my compulsion would be to ruin and isolate.

Interestingly, the second single ‘the one’ is Hackman justifying how she succumbs to her extraordinary ego by unleashing the attention whore within her. It’s that contradictory I’m-the-best-but-I’m-also-the-worst sentiment stemmed from a scared and lonely soul. And it’s oddly comforting to see it’s perhaps a universal feeling?

Any Human Friend is also an unapologetic and blatantly honest manifesto that subverts cultural notions of femininity and phallocentric paradigms. Hackman sings about female masturbation in all its glory on ‘hand solo’ and jokes about dying a virgin under patriarchal law.

In the meantime, there are kissing, fucking, eating and moaning happening on ‘all night’, as well as a final fuck setting in motion before its inevitable breakup on ‘send my love’. In her interview with i-D, Hackman explained, “the word fuck, to me, is a sexy word. I didn’t decide to be even more obscene, I just felt more obscene I suppose”. And indeed, Any Human Friend is more sexy than sexual.

Last year, Marika Hackman’s breakup with fellow musician Amber Bain (aka The Japanese House) was put under the spotlight – Bain even invited Hackman to be in her post-breakup music video for ‘Lilo’. Needless to say, Any Human Friend is a rhythmic reflection of her emotional state after the painful breakup. But on top of that, it’s Hackman’s unique sensibility and her furiously taking charge of it that really shines through. And we’re perfectly happy to see how Hackman reinvents herself in a bolder way each and every time.