Whither the covers album? At one point, it was the go-to for artists, whether to get out of a record label nightmare or to celebrate their favourite artists (whilst absolving themselves of any songwriting duties). Now, they seem like something of a lost art (until earlier this week, we’d even let our own Under the Covers feature stagnate somewhat). Four cheers then for Marika Hackman whose next album is, big surprise, her own versions of the chosen few. No Adele or Ed Sheeran as Sub Pop report:
Marika Hackman returns with Covers, a darkly beautiful, self-produced new album which showcases a more vulnerable side, available on LP/DSPs November 13th, 2020 in the Americas through Sub Pop and the rest of the world from Transgressive Records. Accompanying the news, Marika has shared her version of Grimes’ single “Realiti” plus details of a NoonChorus live stream with her full band that will take place on album release day. Tickets for the show will be available when fans pre-order the album. During the extended stay-at-home order of the last few months, Marika felt that creating a covers record was a way of exploring new sound ideas and expressing herself without having the pressure of the blank page. She recorded and produced Covers between home and her parents’ house, then got the legendary David Wrench (Frank Ocean, The xx, Let’s Eat Grandma) to mix it. David also co-produced her excellent 2019 record Any Human Friend. In contrast to her last two albums (including 2017’s I’m Not Your Man), this collection of songs is more akin in tone and feel to her debut We Slept At Last, with a darker and more introspective sound. On Covers, we hear Marika’s emotive voice set against sparse arrangements of guitars and strings with the occasional synth or scattered drum groove. Breathing new life into the songs she’s chosen, Marika reimagines work by some of the world’s most beloved artists such as Radiohead, Grimes and Elliott Smith. It’s a suitably varied collection, but Marika’s intimate delivery and soft, nuanced and atmospheric touch to production, thread them all together effortlessly.
Marika explains how she came to choose the material: “When it comes to covers, I like to pick songs which I have been listening to obsessively for a while. It gives me a natural understanding of the music, and lets me be more innovative with how I transform it.” First single “Realiti” is a stripped back piano and guitar based version of the Grimes classic from her most celebrated album Art Angels. Marika’s take is a total reinvention and yet it feels wholly her own. Muna’s “Pink Light” from their 2019 record Saves The World is a slice of dark pop, reminiscent of The Cure. In Marika’s hands, it’s a remarkably seamless switch-up to convert these into slower, brooding soft jams.
Marika’s version of Air’s “Playground Love” is one of the highlights, taken from the soundtrack the group composed for Sofia Coppola’s coming of age The Virgin Suicides, the result being a moodier, disorientating reworking of a classic modern moment. Final track “All Night” sees Marika tackling one of the standouts from Beyonce’s Grammy-nominated Lemonade. Again, Marika flips the song on its head. Joined by a choir of stacked vocal harmonies, Marika’s voice transcends to conjure a deep emotional resonance. Adventurous and versatile, Covers continues Marika’s lineage in turning each body of work into a new take and perspective on her creative vision. She twists and turns, always surprises, and is never afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. It remains anyone’s guess to imagine where she will head next. Covers is now available for preorder through Sub Pop (the Americas), Marika Hackman’s official website, and Transgressive Records (ROW). Preorders of the LP will be available as a limited edition Navy Blue/Purple colored vinyl. Marika Hackman
1. You Never Wash Up After Yourself (Radiohead)
2. Phantom Limb (The Shins)
3. Playground Love (Air)
4. Realiti (Grimes)
5. Jupiter 4 (Sharon Van Etten)
6. Pink Light (Muna)
7. Between The Bars (Elliott Smith)
8. Temporary Loan (Edith Frost)
9. In Undertow (Alvvays)
10. All Night (Beyonce)