Billy Nomates – ‘Emergency Telephone’ EP review: dial into one of Britain’s most distinctive new voices

The DIY punk's lockdown on the Isle of Wight results in an urgent and emotional new EP

This EP could easily have been called Telephone Emergency. Its five tracks feature in their background a quietly incessant series of ring tones, dial tones, message ding tones and other associated sonic paraphernalia which, like a dripping tap, come together to invoke a sense of anxiety; a representation of a world where we are made to feel constantly in demand by someone or other.

When considered in full context (the EP was written and recorded in late 2020), the sense of alarm is only heightened; the paradoxical phenomenon of living a life that is suddenly divided into house-sized bubbles where truly meaningful interactions beyond your own four walls are rare to non-existent is forced into contrast by the fact that transient, dispensable, space-filling interactions via modern technology are suddenly off the scale.

For Tor Maries, the caustic, DIY punk singer-songwriter behind Billy Nomates, lockdown meant staying with her dad on the Isle of Wight. Long walks around the island would clear her mind and improvised song fragments that she recorded as she went, as evidenced by the inclusion of one raw voice message on the penultimate track here, have now developed into a finished article.

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The elements that made her 2020 debut album pop are still present: a brilliantly direct and raw approach to beatmaking that calls to mind her recent collaborators Sleaford Mods coupled with a healthy dose of ‘fuck you’ from Maries’ lyrics and delivery. Her personality bursts out of every track, driven by a fearless attitude that appears to come from a place of genuine authenticity.

‘Heels’ and ‘Emergency Telephone’ are tight, uncompromising bangers, while ‘Right Behind You’ proves that Maries understands the power of repetition and that the key to establishing an idea is to find the most economical turn of phrase and to stick with it slightly longer than may seem natural.

‘Petrol Fumes’, on the other hand, points to a different, previously unseen side of Billy Nomates, where the voice is softened, the lyrics are romantic and the beats less angular. Maries is already one of the most distinctive new voices in British music and where she chooses to go from here is anyone’s guess, but for now every choice she is making is working.

Details

Billy Nomates Emergency Telephone

  • Release date: March 5
  • Record label: Invada Records
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