Billy Nomates: Billy Nomates review – One of the quirkier albums of the year
In recent years, acts like Sleaford Mods, Shame and Kate Tempest have been the musical voice of disaffected and disenfranchised millennials. Now the baton has been passed to Tor Maries, aka Billy Nomates, a one-woman band from rural Leicestershire who is on a mission “to sock it to bearded indie cliques, old boys’ clubs in thrall to the Eagles, and overprivileged rich kids who think they represent us all”.
Her manifesto certainly has our vote, but what about the music? Portishead’s Geoff Barrow produced the album, which rails against modern life via a minimalist soundtrack of twangy, grungy, grimy basslines, offbeat rhythms and melodies, and rough-round-the-edges punk rock akin to Patti Smith.
Dishevelled as the songs may sound, Maries’s razor-sharp lyrics, often delivered in a half-sung/spoken word style, are both engaging and amusing. Hippy Elite is a tongue-in-cheek takedown of environmental do-gooders (“One time I cycled all the way home, but nobody saw it”), Call in Sick a wry denunciation of a dead-end job, and FNP quietly cutting (“I was born with a fork not a spoon, and things fall through”).
With the focus primarily on voice and lyrics, momentum starts to flag around the humdrum midpoint until the clubby beat of Wild Arena prods the album back to life. Nevertheless, it’s one of the quirkier albums you’ll hear this year, setting the scene nicely for what might come next.