There is currently no shortage of post-punk acts with a line in confrontational Sprechgesang. Brighton band Squid’s is absurdist and yelping. Dublin’s Sinead O’Brien skews more poetic. Perhaps it’s the lack of clarity from our bumbling leaders that’s forced this stark rhetoric out. Either way, there are few more direct than Billy Nomates, AKA Tor Maries, whose debut single was called, simply, No. That word, she says, is “your greatest resistance”, a point the excellently mulleted musician proves by sticking to monotone delivery, refusing to be cowed or angered by “protein shakes and mirrors” and the expectation to shave her body hair: “I’m not 12.”
Maries recorded her debut album with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow in Bristol, and funnels the city’s thrumming dread into her bristling no-wave sound. Although acclaim and 6 Music support has come easily, this moment has been a while coming: Maries learned fiddle growing up in Leicester, and throughout her early 20s was in bands that never seemed to go anywhere. Following a period of depression, it was a Sleaford Mods gig that reignited her desire to make music, so she set up at home in Bournemouth with her laptop and started writing.
Her voice is deadpan yet biting, with an acute lens on British class structure and the lie of boot-strapping propaganda: “I made a run for it once,” she recalls on FNP (Forgotten Normal People). “I just ended up back at square one, ’cos they could smell me from a mile away.” Now she’s found her lane, she’s unstoppable.