Issy Packer

Freelance music editor based in Bristol and Cornwall. If you see me shout as I’ll probably have my headphones on.

Label: Bold Cut

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Iliadis the third EP from Theo Bleak. Last year was a big year for the artist as she released her debut EP, Fragments, in May and her second EP, ‘For Seasons’, in November. Since then, she has supported Joesef on his UK/IE tour, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and headlined two sold-out Edinburgh and Glasgow shows.

The opener is ‘Homer’. The Dundee singer’s soft vocals are mesmerising as she talks about the experiences that washed over her as a teenager that she’ll never be able to reclaim. It’s a personal track that is made intimate for the listener through the lyrics. The repetition of the lyric “we’ll never be here again” is both confronting and relatable. 

The following track, ‘An Odyssey i’, is the first interlude on the EP. A short instrumental piece featuring a soft guitar riff, the track makes you feel like you should be walking through the woods with the sun peeking through. You could say that there is a slight similarity to Mura Masa’sNocturne For Strings’ but despite being only the second track on the EP it fits neatly into the overall record.

Ursula’ is the mid-way point of the EP. A more upbeat track, the song features a soft, loose rhythm alongside the nostalgic 90’s guitar sounds. The song gives Bleak the chance to show off her vocals, the range of them occasionally undercut by the softness of her voice. 

The next track is ‘To The Boys’ which was released as a single alongside the release of the EP. Possibly the strongest song on the EP, the emotive lyrics are a beautiful way of looking at varying kinds of addiction.

The lyric “You’re no good in heaven” is at once a sad truth as well as a fighting call for those struggling. The track is underscored by the return of the guitar sounds that are so present throughout the EP. 

The second interlude comes next, ‘An Odyssey ii’. An eerie instrumental piece that sounds like waves breaking or someone breathing, depending on your interpretation. 

The track introduces the singer’s first boyfriend Mark, in which you can hear Bleak call his name at the beginning of the brief song. Bleak’s soft vocals come in at the end of the track and there is a sense that we, as the listener, are impinging on a private scene between the two. 

It is a credit to Bleak that she can create these soundscapes that are personal but also so inviting, welcoming us to be part of it.

The final track is ‘Reality Shows’, a look at the distorted look of reality between two people. It’s a haunting track which features self-reflective lyrics set amongst the backdrop of wistful backing vocals and subdued guitar strumming. It’s a beautiful final song, showcasing all the qualities which make Bleak a great singer and songwriter. 

There is a certain subtlety to ‘Iliad’ that requires you to give your full attention to the tracks, otherwise you might miss the thematic strings weaved throughout the songs. 

Bleak bares herself throughout this work, creating an EP that functions like a more interesting and relatable version of The Iliad than the 8th Century original.

Listen to ‘Iliad’ here: