We Slept At Last
Label: Dirty Hit Records
02. Before I Sleep
04. Open Wide
06. Claude’s Girl
07. Animal Fear
08. In Words
09. Monday Afternoon
10. Undone, Undress
11. Next Year
12. Let Me In
NBHAP Rating: 4,6/5
Following three EP’s, We Slept At Last is the haunting debut album from artist MARIKA HACKMAN. It would be very simple yet lazy for a reviewer to discuss comparisons between HACKMAN and fellow artist LAURA MARLING. These comparisons find basis in their close friendship and MARLING’s appearance in HACKMAN’s Animal Fear music video. Yet they’re unjust, a lazy listener could class them both as ‘soft folk’ but it would be unjust to both artists’ work. MARIKA HACKMAN’s vocals are more warped than MARLING’s and her vocal range seems pretty unique. The newcomer oscillates between high and low vocal creating a smorgasbord of sounds.
It would be equally lazy to attempt to write about MARIKA HACKMAN’s tender age as though amazed at the level of emotional power each track holds for such a ‘young’ artist. However, this would seem churlish as We Slept At Last holds an almost youthful wisdom juxtaposed with a childlike innocent. We Slept At Last is a masterpiece both vocally and musically. One to shy away from categorisation of her music, the singer flits between the boundaries and genres within the tracks of We Slept At Last. Intertwining folky yet powerful vocals with unsettling almost dub-like beats, We Slept At Last is a strong debut album that spans the genres. Each track is sharp and unsettling. Each unique yet woven together they create snapshots of situations to make a mosaic of experiences. Expressing herself with a ghostly quality the singer takes the listener on an aural journey through the tales she tells.
Presented as an insight into MARIKA HACKMAN’s psyche and influences this record tackles the usual subjects such; love and growing as a person and an artist however the young woman presents these oft explored issues in a refreshing and exceptional way. Presenting each track as bare bones, free from clichés and musical faux pas, HACKMAN’s manipulates musical genres to her advantage. Claude’s Girl perfectly toys with genres with an almost folky and distant vocal teamed with a classical melody. ‘Turn off my mind I beg you’ … Lyrically the songwriter creates a twisted fairytale in Claude’s Girl, inspired by Claude Debussy’s The Girl With Flaxen Hair, MARIKA HACKMAN creates a lullaby with a serene almost bard-like ballad. It is hardly surprising then that HACKMAN reportedly wrote this as a lullaby as she suffered with insomnia. Animal Fear equally bends the genres of folk and pop, blending gunshot sound effects with the sweet serenity of the singer’s voice. A soulful vocal is juxtaposed with various drumming and guitar sounds. We Slept At Last creates tales of love, regret and everyday occurrences in a tapestry of words.
Hackman plays with words easily in Ophelia, collaborating with Cambridge based band SIVU. ‘She who walks alone in life/is she of sound mind’. Ophelia is a beautiful track displaying a woman’s heartbreak. It pairs a raw sugary vocal with bare guitar strums before melting into soft drums, Ophelia creates a cloud of sound that envelopes you into a dream-like state. We Slept At Last acts as a tapestry of her experiences. A personal highlight of this debut album is Skin where the lines; ‘I’m jealous of your neck/that narrow porcelain plinth of flesh/it gets to hold your head/and I rather perform the task instead’ express a pure love that is, if possible, both very relatable and completely alien.
We Slept At Last is a beautiful record. HACKMAN’s varied vocals along with an incredible range of musical instruments and a talented manipulation creates a record that only the young and wise could create. MARIKA HACKMAN will be a talent to watch as her talent develops. This album signals to longevity in her musical career. As Animal Fear states ‘I can smell the enemies’ fear.’ Yes, we can agree on this.
Already one of the most stunning debut records of 2015. MARIKA HACKMAN creates an impressive first exclamation mark with ‘We Slept At Last’ and its gentle little song treasures.