Marika Hackman’s debut album We Slept at Last [8/10] has a maturity far beyond its artist’s 23 years. The cohesive 11-track collection follows the successful 2014 EP ‘Deaf Heat’, and mirrors the choral influences and lyrical prowess of songs like ‘Deep Green’, yet somehow manages to leave you even more enchanted. The album opens with ‘Drown’, the single which showcases her standout features, like the choral echoes on her mellow voice and spacious song structure. ‘Before I Sleep’ follows, highlighting the singer-songwriter influence stronger yet her vocal patterns are as unique as they are throughout her catalogue.
In ‘Open Wide’, Hackman’s Nirvana-influenced guitar sounds blend idyllically with the lyricism of her folk style. The creeping guitar line has a build-up with the potential to move from soft aggression into a more impressive release, but doesn’t quite compliment the calmness of the vocal delivery and the song feels somewhat unsatisfactory. Maybe that’s the aim, though – the album is soaked in a melancholy calm, mainly effected by the tone of Hackman’s voice.
‘Claude’s Girl’ has a sweeter feeling despite its minor nuances. One example of her poetic skill is the lyric “the flies on my wall they are silent/but the swarm in my head is a hell”, and the song becomes ethereal with haunting imagery alongside its soft acoustic guitar and harmonious choral tune. ‘Animal Fear’ lifts the album, with a pace similar to ‘Deep Green’ and a blend of surreal and beautiful melodies. ‘In Words’ again hits the spot with lyrical concision, Hackman singing “To put it in words/I hate to put it in words.”
The album is hypnotic through its beauty yet Hackman sings as if she’s the one being hypnotised – it seems to be centred on one character, or at least gives off that impression. Marika Hackman haunts her listeners by expressing her raw confessions through her melancholy voice and songs. We Slept at Last perhaps benefits from the dark honesty of being a debut, although through her previous releases the songwriter clearly gained enough experience to conjure up a magical debut that sounds like anything but her first album.