Jan 19, 2023
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By Chris Thiessen

Tor Maries feels like she’s just going around and around, she tells us over and over on CACTI opener “balance is gone.” Understandable, since all of life since 2020 seems to be stuck in an endless time warp. Yet, Maries—whose first record as Billy Nomates came out at the beginning of the time warp—certainly doesn’t seem stuck on her new follow-up. CACTI is made up of much of the same stuff as that debut record—post-punk fervor, murky bass riffs, sparse electronic drums, no-holds-barred lyricism—but the emphases are all different.

“I think your role as an artist is to lean into your biggest feeling and emotion and your overriding sense of where you are and what you’re doing,” Maries recently told The Yorkshire Post. In 2020, Billy Nomates’ biggest feeling was anger, delivered through snarky one-liners and spartan sprechgesang. This pops up again here on the excellent “spite” (“Don’t you act like I ain’t the fucking man”); however, CACTI is more introspective and melancholy, leading Maries into somber melodies on songs such as the eerily haunted carnival tune “roundabout sadness” and the indie folk-leaning “fawner.” Though the one-liners are at times a bit more fun, the emotions Maries explores in this collection remind us that practicing self-awareness and presence is truly the best way out of the time warp. (

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