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  • Andy Mockbee

Review: "Ribcage" - Ilona Mahieu

There are two fundamental relationships we have with songs: what they tell us and what they make us feel. As an art form preoccupied with representing feelings and experience, music has the power to articulate what might feel too abstract for words. The breathtaking latest single from Ilona Mahieu, "Ribcage," is as volcanic as it is incisive, documenting the experience of an eating disorder. The song sizzles like a lit fuze in the first half, sparse rock instrumentation melting away at the confrontational lyrics. At the song's climax, every instrument erupts into a wave of distortion and chaos. The production is immaculate, balancing these two juxtaposed sections to strengthen the whole of the song. It's awe-striking.

Rather than attempting a summative articulation of disordered eating, the UK-based indie rock band narrow the focus to the role eating disorders play in one's life. "Have you come to join me once again / at the table," lead vocalist Pointeau questions over the tense bassline. Even as the song's still simmering towards its climax, the verses hold tremendous impact in their engagement with deeper issues belying the eating disorder. "Carry me through the grief for them," and Pointeau's silvery voice leaps to plead, "Keep me stable." It's not that "Ribcage" is so emotionally gripping because it's tremendously vulnerable; the unforgettable single resonates because it authentically represents an experience with specificity and perspective. It's a song featuring conflicting forces: stability and dependency, anger and grief, stadium-sized and small. After the stormy climax, Pointeau's voice shakes in the hazy quiet of the song's closer. "Watch where you break your bread," she warns. "Ribcage" smolders like a signed contract with the devil.

UK indie rock outfit, Ilona Mahieu is an eclectic band never confined to the boundaries of sound or genre. Punch-packing, dreamy, and rich—the production always swings big with a clear-eyed vision. Mahieu began releasing in 2019, with "Maslow." This was followed in the subsequent two years with three, exquisite singles. "Ribcage" arrives as the first single of 2022, and follows up the previous four tracks with another banger. The band takes pride in the versatility of their sound and the poeticism of their lyrics. Notably, the music video for "Ribcage" is a stunning, visual companion to the fantastic track.

Written By Andy Mockbee

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