ALBUM REVIEW: Marika Hackman – Big Sigh


English folk singer-songwriter Marika Hackman returned on January 12, 2024 with Big Sigh, her fourth studio album and first album through Chrysalis Records. Co-produced with Sam Petts-Davies (Thom Yorke, Warpaint) and Charlie Andrew (Alt-J, Benjamin Francis Leftwich), Hackman hones in finding balance while examining deeper into dark corners of her life.

Setting the tone for Big Sigh, Hackman introduces the album with a low-spirited instrumental track “The Ground.” As the track comes to a close, Hackman’s newest record feels eerily familiar as she and the listener prepare to delve into anxiety’s suffocating grip. The lyrics of lead single, “No Caffeine” read as a simple pep talk in the midst of an anxiety attack. “Occupy your mind, don’t stay home / Talk to all your friends, but don’t look at your phone.”

Marika Hackman - No Caffeine (Official Video) (Explicit)

Third track, “Big Sigh,” staggers away from the dream-pop of the singer-songwriter’s previous record Any Human Friend (2019). Rather the title track is a semi-rock ballad composed of creeping drumbeats and piercing self-analysis. “God loves a trier (Radio Silence) / I’ll call you when I fall apart / Don’t bend on my sucker heart.” Shedding the colorful details of her mid-twenties, Hackman’s lyrics and harmonies continue to hit home.

Marika Hackman - Big Sigh (Official Visualiser)

The gentle production of “Hanging,” track five, transforms into a visceral story of Hackman’s own macabre experiences. “And my heart won’t grow / With your fingers down my throat / It’s a hard brown stone / Like an embryo.” Emphasizing the album’s contradictory themes of desire and anguish, part of the track’s excellence comes from its haunting layered vocals and grunge guitars.

Marika Hackman - Hanging (Official Lyric Video)

Big Sigh closes with the folk melodies of “The Yellow Mile,” paired with raw lyricism on uneasy relationships. “I wouldn’t change the past / I was happy for a while / But I can’t believe I loved you.” During her five year hiatus, Hackman’s cutting prose grew to embrace its unflinching relentlessness. Combined with sullen strings and shaky almost deadpan vocals, Big Sigh‘s slower songs highlight the best of Hackman’s ability: familiar discomfort.

Marika Hackman - The Yellow Mile (Official Music Video)