“It’s fine because I am just a girl, it doesn’t count/He knows a woman needs a man to make her shout.” Lines from I’m Not Your Man’s opener, ‘Boyfriend’. The biting irony of these lyrics serve as a tagline for the album which gleams with dark humour. Marika Hackman is making fun of her lover’s boyfriend who can’t seem to see her cheating ways because her new lover “wears a dress”. It’s a fuck you to those that think lesbian relationships are somehow less ‘real’ but it’s also a deliciously immoral song. Of course, it’s wrong, and Hackman doesn’t sound happy about it. But these sticky situations are familiar to all 20-somethings and the dry regret felt afterwards is palpable in Hackman’s drawling vocals.
It’s a sultry album that reminds me of smudged eyeliner and floors sticky with beer. Hackman sounds bored, exhausted and frankly, sick of everyone’s shit. A sentiment I think we can all relate to. My Lover Cindy is as close to a pop song as the album gets. It’s still a head-banger though and it still reeks of sarcasm and self-loathing. “I’m a lousy lover/Even if I try/I can go for a couple of weeks and the feelings calcify.” A nice way of saying, “I get bored easily so don’t come near me.” The sound of this song reminds me of Wolf Alice, back when they didn’t succumb to overproduction: self-consciously pop-y punk.
Cigarette reminds us of Hackman’s stripped back roots. It’s a melancholy lament, with just Hackman’s vocals and an acoustic guitar. Don’t let the ethereal backing vocals lull you into a false sense of security though, the lyrics are still a bit fucked up. “Bathed it in petroleum/Let a cigarette give you a kiss.” That’s some dark stuff right there. But sung in Hackman’s drawl, it sounds almost sweet. It’s like a piece of candy with poison in the middle. Still inviting, but ultimately deadly.
There are songs on the album that feel like fillers. Maybe it’s just the dad-rocker in me that misses a bit of pizazz, but there are times when the sultriness actually does become a bit boring. It could be the point. Hackman could be trying to bore us into taking a long hard look at ourselves and everyone around us. I’d like to believe that’s true but I think I might be reading too much into it. Skip over ‘Gina’s World’, ‘Round We Go’ and ‘Blahblahblah’ if you get bored easily and don’t buy the ‘bore you into introspection’ interpretation.
‘Time’s Been Reckless’ reminds me of jumping around my bedroom with a hairbrush when I first discovered Pixies. ‘Violet’ is dark and brooding, with some of the best lyrics on the album “I’d like to roll around your tongue/Caught like a bicycle spool/You’d eat, I’d grow and grow/Swelling up until you choke.” Jeeeeez. Other highlights are ‘Eastbound Train’ and ‘I’d Rather Be With Them’, the former a wry smile and the latter a single tear running down a cheek.
Marika Hackman has created an album that is a depressingly accurate portrayal of 20hood. Just like its cover, the album reminds us that we spill things, drink red wine out of water glasses and squirt moisturiser into our takeaways. All are symptoms of the boredom we feel, trying desperately to make sense of relationships in the 21st century, trying to figure out if we care enough to invest our time in anything really. This is not a driving down the highway laughing with your pals album. This is a wake the freak up and smell the coffee album.