God bless Marika Hackman. Discussing the subject matter of Boyfriend, the lead single of I’m Not Your Man, she has said it’s “payback for all those times I’ve been interrupted mid-snog by some seedy wanker asking to join in”. And rather than it being an angry missive, it’s almost a derisive laugh of a song, a bouncy guitar-driven scoff that says she’s having a good time, you’re not invited, and she’s very much going to revel in that fact (see also: those hilarious screams at the end).
And while the title of the record is loaded in itself (more on that later), this already feels like the sound of Hackman being more confident and comfortable, and certainly far from the shadows of her debut record. And while it leans more toward a grunge sound, surfing on guitars with songs like Good Intentions, there’s no compromise on the depth that made her such a recognised force to begin with – for example, the discussion of medication on Blahblahblah or self-flagellation on I’d Rather Be With Them (“I’m so fucking heartless I can’t even cry”).
Essentially, this is Marika Hackman’s portrait of womanhood in its different facets. If Boyfriend takes in the more raucous side, there’s something hugely tender about the choral breakdown of Gina’s World, or the simple acoustica soul-baring of Cigarette, or the lo-fi throwback and hushed delivery of Round We Go and (one of our favourite songs of hers to date, Apple Tree). Surprise surprise, dickheads – feminism doesn’t mean just one thing, or one mood, or one moment.
There’s no denying that I’m Not Your Man is about the coarser everyday split of sexes – not your dude, not ‘mate’, and nothing but one’s own woman – but it’s also very much an exploration of sexuality. My Lover Cindy sees Hackman addressing this at her most overt (“‘Cause I’m a greedy pig/ I’m gonna get my fill/ I’m gonna keep my eyes on the prize/ And I’ll suck you dry, I will), the fluidity of it all no doubt set to elicit even more eye-roll questions when it comes to discussing the woman herself. But it ought to matter little: words are her weapon, and as usual Marika Hackman delivers a point so sharp it’ll prick any chauvinist, well, prick.