“hand solo,” “blow,” “conventional ride”—these are just a few of the cheeky offerings off Any Human Friend, the new album from rock provocateur Marika Hackman. “This whole record is me diving into myself and peeling back the skin further and further, exposing myself in quite a big way. It can be quite sexual,” Hackman says. “It’s blunt, but not offensive. It’s mischievous.” There’s also depth to her carnal knowledge: Any Human Friend (out via AMF Records and Sub Pop Records in North and South America) is ultimately about how, as she puts it, “We all have this lightness and darkness in us.”
Hackman lifted the album’s title from a documentary about four-year-olds interacting with dementia patients in senior homes. At one point, two little girls confer about their experience there, with one musing on how it’s great to make “any human friend,” whether old or young. “When she said that it really touched a nerve in me,” says the London-based musician. “It’s that childlike view where we really accept people, are comfortable with their differences.”
Such introspection has earned Hackman her name. Her 2015 debut, We Slept at Last, was heralded for being nuanced and atmospheric. She really found her footing with her last release, I’m Not Your Man—which earned raves from The Guardian, Stereogum, and Pitchfork—and its sybaritic, swaggering hit “Boyfriend,” which boasts of seducing away a straight guy’s girlfriend. “Her tactile lyrics keep the songs melodically strong and full of surprises,” remarked Pitchfork. We’ll say!
“I’m a hopeless romantic,” she explains. “I search for love and sexual experience, but also I’m terrified by it.” Hackman is a Rid of Me-era PJ Harvey for the inclusive generation: unbounded by musical genre, a preternatural lyricist and tunesmith who isn’t afraid to go there. (Even her cover art, which finds Hackman nearly nude while cradling a baby pig, is a nod to Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra’s unfiltered photos of mothers just after they gave birth.) To that end, “hand solo” extorts the virtues of masturbation and features Hackman’s favorite line, “Under patriarchal law, I’m going to die a virgin.” The song “blow” paints a picture of social excess. And “conventional ride” thumbs its nose at heterosexual sex through “the trope a lot of gay women experience: sleeping with someone, then it becomes apparent you’re kind of an experiment.”
Husky Loops are not your average rock band. In fact, they want to redefine what a rock’n’roll band can be. Sure, there’s three members – Danio Forni (vocals/guitar/production), Pietro Garrone (drums) and Tommaso Medica (bass) – but instruments certainly doesn’t mean that they’re stuck in familiar territory rock music has found itself in. They’re far more forward thinking than that.
“We play the required instruments that means we are considered a ‘classic band,’” says leader Danio, knowing that the term “band” is littered with assumptions. “When our first single ‘Dead’ came out in 2016, we were called ‘art-rock’ because we're not that normal. But I want people to know Husky Loops is not just ‘indie-rock’ or ‘art rock’ or whatever – we can do so much more than that. I'm proud of what we do and being a live band, but those terms aren’t who we are.”
So what on earth are Husky Loops all about, then? The London trio, by way of Bologna, Italy find it hard to put a single label on it themselves, but that is part of the charm. Each song takes on a unique framework that is informed by new and diverse experiences – the DNA of this band is an ever-changing and exciting prospect. One song will utilise the basslines from modern day hip-hop or the ambitious production usually saved for electronic music, with the next incorporating beats typically found in modern-jazz or even UK Garage.