Lil Sprout: Maraschino’s “Smoke & Mirrors”

Written by Travis Shosa

Melding the sensual potency of Debbie Harry with the pulsating synthesizer work of Alan Vega’s Suicide, Maraschino is the solo project of Piper Durabo. Formerly of 2010s dream-pop duo Puro Instinct, Maraschino debuted in 2019 with “True Lover,” a bouncy new wave earworm that saw Durabo don a dissociative smile and a sweet surface disposition as she sang, “My true lover threw me away again.” 2020 saw her record covers of Carly Simon’s “Why” and Cristina’s “Things Fall Apart,” while in 2021, she delivered a pair of “sound healing tonics” with “Ruby” and “Sapphire.” But it’s been more than three years since Maraschino has released an original pop single: a drought ended by “Smoke & Mirrors.”

There’s less pep in the step of “Smoke & Mirrors” compared to Maraschino’s first single, healthily supplanted by a heaping helping of biting wit. “Fuck, marry, kill / And drink your rosé / Nobody cares / It’s all fun and games / And losers play to win,” she sings over bubbling arpeggiated synths, condemning the superficiality bred by the new era of media: where people are afflicted with “main character syndrome.” Durabo expresses disgust with those more concerned with appearing to live a homogenized ideal of what their best life should entail than discovering it for themselves. “Unrepentant diseased parasites / With appetites they cannot satisfy / Drama du jour / Pretense on ice / You give ’em 15 / They’ll give you their livesit’s a scathing attack played cool and confident. “Smoke & Mirrors” ropes the listener in with its seductive allure before smashing them in the face with the cold, bitter realities obfuscated by aesthetics. It’s a modern Videodrome warning flare: the rays have just turned from cathode to gamma.

For more Maraschino, you can watch the video for her debut single, 2019’s “True Lover”:

Travis Shosa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Stamens/Pistils/Parties. Formerly the runner of COUNTERZINE, he has bylines at Pitchfork, The Alternative, and Post-Trash among others.

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