Marika Hackman, a critics’ darling who has been heavily anticipated before uttering the first careful, considered syllable of her debut album ‘We Slept At Last’. A British female artist dealing in the world of melancholia and despair is perhaps not revolutionary yet Marika does tackle the themes of love and heartbreak in a ghoulishly downtempo way. ‘Drown’ is a poignant piece that has an unnerving unpredictable tempo as you cannot judge to which depths Marika will plumb on this piece of goth-pop. The prelude to a finale that never appears, ‘Before I Sleep’ once agains teeters on the spoken word as she poetically weaves a narrative laced over gloomy production.
Her friendship with Laura Marling has clearly influenced her atmospheric tones and style and her vocal is of a similar range. ‘Ophelia’ builds like a small stream rushing to the river mouth as heavy percussion and reverberating drums echo the endings whilst the linear voice remains ever-present and unchanged. ‘Open Wide’ relies far more heavily on production and is likeable to a Warpaint B-Side, the experimental synth and heavy repetitive bass holding the entire track together makes for an oppressive musical cell that imprisons the listener within Marika’s world.
The entire album could soundtrack a piece of surrealist cinema such as ‘Let The Right One In’ or ‘The Wicker Man’ the narratives are increasingly sinister and the tempos increasingly unstable. There are moments of sheer panic and terror where you stand wide eyed affront these complex three minute works of nu-folk and simply reflect the feelings that Hackman so successfully communicates within her work. The saintly, indulgent ‘Monday Afternoon’ offers a moment of reprieve yet as the violins lull you to security, you can’t help but wonder where Marika’s dark mind will transport you next. This album is a stark and raw demonstration in originality, the production of Charlie Andrew is wonderfully adapted and catered to each track and behaves like a delicate piece of ribbon tying this music together.