Marika Hackman: I'm Not Your Man (4 stars)

Marika Hackman: I'm Not Your Man

Bold, creative, forthright second album from the indie-pop singer-songwriter

When Marika Hackman first released 'Boyfriend' as a single, it was an early indication of her intention to broach new territory with the follow-up to her 2015 debut. The heavily sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek track departs from the innocence and sombre warmth of We Slept at Last, hinting at something bolder and more unashamedly forthright.

'Boyfriend', an ode to female empowerment, opens I'm Not Your Man with a clear 'don't fuck with me' attitude, humorously and sardonically depicting the pains of being in a queer relationship: 'no one takes us seriously just because I wear a dress'. The song's sunny disposition is mimicked elsewhere in 'My Lover Cindy', 'Time's Been Reckless' and 'Eastbound Train', but underneath the peppy indie-pop choruses and upbeat melodies often lies a feeling of cynicism and a confidence that uncovers deeper themes.

On tracks like 'Good Intentions', you can hear the grunge influences seeping in with its fuzzy, screeching guitar lines, off-kilter string bends and quiet-loud-quiet formula. The softly sung 'Gina's World' similarly harks back to the 90s, landing somewhere in between Nirvana's 'Polly' and Hole's 'Doll Parts'. Meanwhile, 'Apple Tree' is the album's Americana-inspired number, with trumpets and the sound of a güiro contributing to an atmospheric weariness. Some of the album's finest moments arrive when Hackman's vocals are isolated, as on 'Cigarette' with its gentle finger-picked guitar accompaniment while the acoustic guitar on 'I'd Rather Be With Them' shadows Hackman's soothing voice, beguiling harmonies and dark lyrics.

I'm Not Your Man is certainly more audacious in its overall structure and discussions, but it's also frank and alluring, demonstrating a previously unseen adventurousness in Hackman's compositions. Signalling a liberation of sorts, themes like femininity and sexual identity are dissected in a way that is unrestrained but still highly creative.

Out Fri 2 Jun (Sub Pop).

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