Another unimpressionable indie album
Marika Hackman’s Any Human Friend is fine. It’s tolerable but wholly unremarkable. The opening track “Wanderlust” features some disconsolate, airy vocals over a slow acoustic guitar, and with a very ‘lo-fi’ production quality, it’s a template that has become the meta for her contemporaries. In that way, the opener is indicative for much of the record; a mash-up of those same properties and ‘aesthetics’ that have been standard in Millenial indie/lo-fi for some time now. Indeed, this project is evocative of the brain drain that has crippled alternative music for years, one which has only recently been reversed by a crop of young, innovative artists; albeit, there have been many great indie artists active over the last decade, but they’ve been largely buried by boring, radio-friendly acts like this.
There isn’t much merit to listening to this; not because it’s exceptionally bad, but because Hackman fails to provide much reason as to why her record, as opposed to a myriad of similar projects, is worth your time. There isn’t much in the way of stylistic depth and save for the opening track, the glossy, smooth production is constant throughout. All of the tracks just kind of meld together, coalescing into this one big, prosaic work. Admittedly, the track “I’m not where you are” is thoroughly entertaining, so this project actually does have one pretty good single. That’s very much the exception though; apart from the aforementioned monotony, most of the tracks off this album lack direction and/or a strong sense of melody. The instrumentation and production aren’t anything special. Just as well, Hackman’s spectral vocal performances become very much obnoxious by the end. Again, there are brief moments when those generalizations are incorrect, but they are very brief.
Beyond “I’m not where you are,” “hand solo,” and maybe even the opening “Wanderlust,” there aren’t many tracks worth listening to. It’s just rather boring, there is very little interesting, subversive or at all notable about this work. The only thing this shows is how meaningless the term ‘alternative’ music is becoming. It sounds as though it’s something you’d hear on top 40 pop radio or in a really gentrified airport terminal, and at that point, how ‘alternative’ is it really?