Mara Liddle – Stalemate

My youth was spent in the potteries duck, in a small conservative town called Stone, where boredom is unavoidable and alternative kids are few and far between. Although I would never admit it at the time, my older sister Abi was my biggest source of inspiration. I was a nerdy kid playing warhammer. She was an artist into Manic Street Preachers, Nirvana and The Cure (I often think about her hand-painted school bag adorned with the face of Robert Smith) You have to remember this was pre-internet and our nearest record shop was a long painful bus ride away so access to new music was limited, and instead I used to steal her cds, books and pass off her ideas as my own.

With this in mind, discovering Mara Liddle felt a little more personal, knowing we’ve walked a similar path. Debut EP Stalemate draws upon a warm colour palette, a playful response to modern life that glistens in its own radiance. If I was to think about her music in the context of Stoke’s industrial landscape, she would be Clarice Cliff, a vivid anomaly in the midst of the mundane.

There’s a sense here she’s tentatively making her first steps towards a more radical vision. clearly influenced by hyper- pop / PC Music (SOPHIE, Hannah Diamond) with a collection of material that dances around the edges but never quite devolves into brilliant chaos. SOPHIE’s willingness to take risks, experiment with different aesthetics and atmospheres was ultimately what raised her music beyond the spectrum.

Nonetheless I’m intrigued by the direction of travel, and standout track All Over The Place is an earworm of the highest order, with an intimate vocal bringing to mind Manchester’s own Piri.

I have very little connection to where I grew up now, but I imagine it’s much the same. A few good people trying hard to keep the music scene alive with very little investment, infrastructure or support to fall back on. And that’s pretty much why Tru Luv exists really, to give a platform to those living outside of the London bubble.