Enigmatic UK-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Marika Hackman teased fans with new single “No Caffeine” last month, to critical acclaim from the likes of The New York Times. Today she officially announces her fourth studio album Big Sigh, to be released on January 12th via Chrysalis Records.
To celebrate the announcement of Big Sigh, Marika shares a potent new single entitled “Hanging.” “Hanging” – the first song that Marika wrote for Big Sigh, but also the first song she wrote following her creative drought – is a track that processes the end of a relationship in a delicate, dissociative daze, ending in an engulfing crash of banshee wails and grunge guitars. The single epitomizes the forthcoming album’s opposing themes: the contrast of loud-quiet, the rub of industrial and pastoral, and the innocence of childhood versus the gnarly realities of adulthood. “‘Hanging’ is reflecting on a difficult past relationship and how you can trap yourself in a situation where you’re unable to grow into the next stage of your life,” Marika explains. “The line ‘yeah you were a part of me / i’m so relieved it hurts’ is describing how painful it still is to break up even if it’s not right.”
Big Sigh, her first album in four years, is the “hardest record” Marika has ever made and is, as its title suggests, a release of sorts. Lockdown in 2020 left Marika stifled and isolated, unable to craft a fully formed song, and wondering if she’d ever write again. After a hard-fought journey back from a lengthy creative dry spell, Marika brings us Big Sigh, which she co-produced with Sam Petts-Davies [Thom Yorke, Warpaint] and long-term collaborator Charlie Andrew (Alt-J). She also performed every element of the record, save for the brass and strings. Big Sigh finds Marika venturing into fresh terrain, with a constant tug between organic instrumentation and the harsher dynamics of synthetic distortion. It’s like walking into an abandoned industrial wasteland covered in poison ivy, with a blend of sadness, stress and lust, but mostly – and crucially – relief.
Leaving the carnal days of her 20s behind, this album is less a photo-real documentation of the moment, but more like an artist peering through a gap in a door to reassess her former life. If it’s her haunting soundscapes that first lure you in, it’s her lyrical acrobatics that latch onto your brain – images of gore, yearning and off-kilter romance. In her never-ending pursuit of untangling her internal universe and exploring complex melodies, she has made her most honest and brave album yet.