MusicReview

Marika Hackman: No Caffeine is an early highlight and whatever her inspiration was, it works

There is a definite 1990s indie and grunge influence to this album alongside the classical piano leanings, but Hackman is not bound by it

Big Sigh
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Artist: Marika Hackman
Genre: Indie
Label: Chrysalis Records

Following a series of albums and EPs that showcased her potential but didn’t quite hit the mark, Marika Hackman has finally come good on her fourth record. It only took the small matter of a global pandemic (and the writer’s block that it instigated) for the Hampshire-born musician to find her groove in glorious fashion.

Hackman has always teetered on the boundary of weirdness, earning comparisons to PJ Harvey, Joanna Newsom and even Nico in the past. On Big Sigh, the 31-year-old throws herself in to her eccentricities with a candid earnestness, both musically and lyrically. No Caffeine is an early highlight, its loose clatter brushing up against a sophisticated undercurrent of strings; The Ground, with its oddly filtered vocals, is a mini odyssey of orchestration; on The Yellow Mile, the eerie, sparse folk lilt lingers after the final note.

There is a definite 1990s indie and grunge influence to this album alongside the classical piano leanings, but Hackman is not bound by it. Lyrics like “You wanna drink my blood/ Is it true, do you think you’re in love?” and “’Mum says I’m a waste of skin/ A sack of shit and oxygen” certainly offset any notions of delicacy, and Hackman tackles themes of anxiety and self-doubt gracefully. There is a persistent sense of carnality to these songs, perhaps a result of Hackman reconnecting with herself after a period of creative difficulty. Whatever her inspiration was, it works.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times