The Iliad is Homer’s masterpiece – everyone knows that. In 2023, though, Iliad (minus the ‘the’) can also be called Theo Bleak’s most compelling work to date. It could even be described as her masterpiece, perhaps. Either way, Iliad will certainly confirm Theo Bleak’s place as one of the most interesting, upcoming artists in the alternative music scene.
Having supported Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds just last year, it’s safe to say that Theo Bleak is becoming an important name in the industry – as is Katie Lynch, the mastermind behind both the persona, and, of course, this EP. Mixing the classical with the quintessentially modern, Theo Bleak creates a winding path through her own, apparently distinct, genre. Similar to the Odyssey, really. Bleak (or Lynch, perhaps) takes her listeners on a journey – covering everything from the madness of teenage years to failed relationships, all wrapped up neatly in a six-song EP with a strong visual identity.
‘Homer’, the first track to be released from Iliad, and the first in the EP’s track-list, is nostalgic and gut-wrenching. Bleak repeats, over and over again, the line “We’ll never be here again” – taken directly from Homer’s Odyssey. For this very reason, this track is the perfect opener to an EP drenched in the fleetingness of, well, everything. The track sets up Iliad as an odyssey (pun-intended) that will take the listener through all the facets of the human experience – reminiscence, in particular.
A highlight of the EP has to be ‘To The Boys’ – it’s dreamy and almost questioning, and it encapsulates the feeling of being perpetually tied to the people you used to know; entirely independent of where you might be in life. Listening to this drags up memories of failed or disregarded dreams, reminding the listener of all that could have happened, and all that’s left to come – all in four short minutes. In a good way, of course.
‘Reality Shows’, too, is an excellent example of Bleak’s masterful song-writing. Inspired by conversations with her ex-boyfriend, the track displays the winding nuances involved in failing and failed relationships. The not knowing if you’re the bad guy; the seemingly never-ending questioning, and the what-ifs. It’s dreamlike – and, even regardless of the lyrics, it showcases Bleak’s brilliant and distinctive vocals. Hazy-sounding and utterly unique, Theo Bleak is certainly the artist to keep your eye on.
Words: Rosie Smith // Photo: Nathan Dunphy
‘Iliad’ is out now via Bold Cut. Stream the record below and check out more of Theo Bleak’s work here.