Marika Hackman :: "Bath Is Black"

Back in October, one of my roommates and I engaged in a sort of stupefied email exchange around Marika Hackman's group of cover songs she'd thrown together as an EP. Who had the balls or the insouciance to cover Nirvana's "Lithium" and Nico's "These Days" on the same record? Hackman's versions of both songs proved reverential and new, something so good that it made the wrenching heartbreak of Nico's lyric "don't confront me with my failures" seem absurd and vaguely ironic. We were stunned. Hackman's string of nearly unsettling successes continues on her best track to date, "Bath Is Black". The arrangement evokes shades of Joanna Newsome with the edges sandpapered down. Crackling percussion pitches itself between taut restraint and Hackman's soft and distant vocal, as winning a middle section as any song you'll hear this year. All a bit unsettling - "if the bath is black and the soap is old" -  Hackman is a sweet and innocent center, something that will stun and mollify without entirely meaning to.

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