The last time I reviewed Ilena Shadbolt’s work was in August 2020, she did a gig at Whammy! and she was absolutely divine… but I thought what if it stopped there? Does she just make one good set of songs and that’s it? What follows? Will it be as good? She released Silver Tongue on May 9 and holy shit, it’s so hot.
The inclination to reviewing an artist – especially an up and coming one – would be to compare them to an already established one. The first time I listened to it, it reminded me of a screechy but melodic Lorde vibe, and the writing felt similar to Frank Ocean’s yearning poetic style; but Ilena proves herself an individual as she hits two sides of the coin, and goes beyond. The metaphysicality of the lyrics is aligned to the transcendental beats and second voices. It’s definitely ethereal, but I just wish there were more lyrics to really grasp the yearning, especially since Ilena’s poetry is really her strength! But, with all that aside, it must be listened to with earphones. The sound moves from left to right and right to left, bringing you to another world. The strength of Silver Tongue – and Ilena’s style, in general – is how she layers music and where her sounds are pulled from. There’s something very ambiguous about the drumbeats and the little high keys. It’s uncanny, there are elements that sound very organic but very artificial at the same time, and I find that mystery to be very seductive.
“Holy shit, it’s so hot.”