Ilena: Wellington-grown, Auckland-based, and a musical ace. Everytime she releases a new piece, she further reinforces her genius. Lossless is Ilena’s sophomore album, following Protostar. Released in 2021, Lossless seems to centralise heartbreak and fragments of a once-was romance. I’ve always worshipped Ilena’s writing as her main focus of brilliance, but in this album her sound is a lot cleaner than it was in Protostar. Most tracks unify an organic and synthetic sound. Ilena makes me hear stars twinkle, and that’s something I used to only be able to see.
The album starts off with a bop, “In Time/ I’ve Been Down” — definitely one I envision playing in a hot speakeasy. My personal favourite? It’s gotta be “Far Away.” It’s an eclectic take on the withering phase of a relationship, when the distance grows but physical proximity probably doesn’t. “Phone” expounds on this theory further, illustrating how this relationship balances on a twig, and every minor detail keeps one cramped up. Ilena has always been stellar with her writing in this song: “And you write her a note,/ Are the pages filled up?/ Or are they blank as they burn?” Fucking genius! But the line that really kills is in “Miss,” leaving you gobsmacked: “I give you up/ it’s dangerous/ to let one person ever be enough.” Her words cut through slowly, like a knife, one that’s familiar yet still as sharp as the first stab.
“Ten out of ten break-up album, I’m here for the pain.”