Release Date: Aug 9, 2019
Record label: Sub Pop
Her third full-length record following 2013's mini-album 'That Iron Taste', 2015's 'We Slept at Last' and 2017's 'I'm Not Your Man', 'Any Human Friend' is an unflinching look into Marika Hackman's psyche. A deeply personal album, it's honest and bold, seeing Marika embody a sharper sense of self as she dives into remarkably open (read: filthy) experiences in love, sex, pain and everything between, emerging the other side with a hopeful outlook on the future. If 'I'm Not Your Man' was a giant step towards shaking off her previous folk label, its frank and straight-to-the-point lyrics further evidence of Marika's newfound confidence, then 'Any Human Friend' sees Marika taking another massive leap forward.
A resplendent piece of pop/rock/folk that is as beguiling musically as it is lyrically blunt. In the last several days, I've gotten to know Marika Hackman's music very well. I poured over her first two releases - We Slept At Last and I'm Not Your Man - and found myself blown away by how each record succeeds so differently. The tender, moonlit folk of the former was outshone by the band-backed I'm Not Your Man, a swaggering exercise in alt-rock that saw her come out of her shell both musically and sexually (the timid strides of her debut notwithstanding, 'Boyfriend' was the first song where she sang confidently about being gay).
Marika Hackman describes how she stopped being able to sleep properly over the 12 months that she wrote Any Human Friend across, and would wake up in the middle of the night needing to write. It's not hard to believe; the London-based musician's third LP is loaded with songs that feel as though they demanded to be written. You get the sense that they demanded to be written at various emotional states, too: the synth-driven "send my love" is heavy-hearted ("if you loved me tonight/you'd get the fuck out of my sight") whereas "come undone" rides a kind of invincible indifference that feels a million miles away.
Rineke Dijkstra's work is raw and unfiltered, interested in photographing people at a time in their lives when they don't have everything under control. Inspired by these full length portraits, Marika Hackman stands against a naturally lit backdrop for her album's cover art, cradling a piglet across her chest. Whereas Dijkstra's photographic series are inscribed with the date and place, recording a specific moment in time, Hackman's is titled with the album's namesake: Any Human Friend.
In Marika Hackman's telling, life as a twenty-something in a major city means nights where you kiss strangers, consume substances, and stay up until it becomes light again. It also means nights where you stay inside of your apartment and talk to no one. This polarity is the basis of the British singer-songwriter's third album, Any Human Friend, which is a singular, extraordinarily horny, and occasionally bleak pop record largely about the complexities of queer desire.
B reakup albums are standard fare in the world of pop and rock, but it's hard to think of nearly enough that feature odes to women masturbating while subverting the heteronormative gaze. Enter British singer-songwriter Marika Hackman with her third album, and glorious songs such as Hand Solo ("I gave it all, but under patriarchal law, I'm gonna die a virgin"). Queer sex, self-pleasure and a general wry frankness are consistent themes throughout Any Human Friend, which follows the end of Hackman's four-year relationship with fellow musician Amber Bain, aka the Japanese House.
Right off the bat, 'Any Human Friend' asserts itself as a contender for album of the year. Marika Hackman, in the past, has been known for her dry, sharp, and personal lyrics; immediately, 'Any Human Friend' is a record that follows suit. 'the one' brings the distorted, warbly acoustics from album opener 'wanderlust' into a new light; 'wanderlust' is the melancholy first half, bleeding into 'the one''s sexual consciousness.