Marika Hackman - 'Any Human Friend'

8/10

When we first heard Marika Hackman's sophomore studio album 'I'm Not Your Man' in 2017, we were greeted with a wave of brilliant and poignant tracks that looked to explore the frontwoman's own sexuality as a gay woman trying to navigate the world today. With brutally honest lyrics and a strong and empowering message to other young girls who are looking to feel comfortable in their own skin, the release took her from a fledging young songwriter to one of the UK's most important new talents. Now as she returns with her third studio record 'Any Human Friend', she looks to further delve into this world of queer identity and deliver one of her most engaging collections to date.

But while her previous LP was all about coming to terms with being homosexual, 'Any Human Friends' is all about the fallout from that resolution, mainly what to do when the other half of the couple no longer wants to be in a relationship. But in her true and uncompromising style, Hackman doesn't hold back the raw and sometimes uncomfortable emotions she now feels. Rather than become one of those break up albums filled with sorrow and self-loathing, she takes on the most familiar tropes of losing a loved one like challenging an ex on 'send my love' or finding herself masturbating constantly on 'hand solo'.

And while the topics of this new album remain very much connected to a theme, the record's production takes a far more eclectic approach as she experiments with synth-filled alt-pop as much as lo-fi singer-songwriter aesthetics. Despite its fully formed and enticing nature, 'Any Human Friend' still feels like part of a journey for Marika Hackman. Its solid and exciting intention remain very much part of a musical evolution, as if she still has plenty to give, and given how good this record is, we can only hope that there is plenty more inspiration left in her as she progresses.

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