Richard Brabin finds Marika Hackman's music playfully irresistable

Marika Hackman

The Bullingdon

November 14

The art of a good pop song and indeed a good pop album is as illusive and sought after as any weapon in a musician’s arsenal. To be original but familiar, catchy without cloying and complex but never alienating means the pit falls and hurdles often lead to end products sounding ubiquitous, imitated, tiresome or cheap.

Step forward Marika Hackman who, in her most recent offering I’m Not Your Man, sows the seeds of her new brand of indie pop, tongue in cheek observations, infectious melodies and twanging textures allowing the record an informal and unquestionably atypical voice.

The casual and carefree attitudes of her music spill instantaneously into her live sound, Hackman taking to the stage with all the bravado of an awkward adolescent and, after coyly signalling the band to up tools, breaking into a litany of intelligent but inclusive compositions.

Never tedious but perhaps making eyes with twee, Hackman has assembled a glut of disciplined and coherent pop melodies that emphasise the mature but playful nature of her ethos. The scope and intensity of her voice is something perhaps a little marginalised on her records, the trebly nature of the recordings not allowing her vocal lines to truly break through, but live there is more room for autarky and confidence, filling a sell out Bullingdon with flighty, fluttering scales of imposing lyricism.

There is, at times a reluctance to adjust either the tone or dynamics of her music, relying a little too heavily on an accustomed formula without the pluck to stray too far from the beaten track. In between the bluster and adrenaline of the opening numbers and the crowd pleasing closers there is sometimes a restlessness symptomatic of a loss of momentum or the inability to surprise one’s audience. However, as is the case with all great shows and indeed great performers, when the audience spills out into the cold night, the sentiment and grace of Hackman’s performance and persona stays with its benefactors long after the final notes have dissolved. She seems to be steadfastly climbing her career trajectory, her music comfortably now speaking for itself, and one wonders if next time she visits our city, she might be in somewhat less intimate settings. 4 / 5