Billie Eilish colours far from boxes on debut album
Teenage pop sensation Billie Eilish first gained buzz back in 2016 when she was just 14 years old and dropped the track ‘Ocean Eyes’. Slowly but steadily she started to get her name out there until 2018 came around and hit singles like ‘Lovely’ with Khalid and ‘When The Party’s Over’ made her into one of the biggest stars on the planet. With a massive online following and increasing interest from radio, ‘Bury A Friend’ became her next big success and it was the perfect lead single for the album. Billie’s debut LP When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go is finally out and it is hard to wrap your head around the fact that this is her first!
The success of Billie’s recent singles has shown that she does not need to follow trends at all. The haunting, stripped back ballad ‘When The Party’s Over’ is catchy in a hypnotic way, but did not scream ‘radio hit’ in the slightest and the same goes for the bonkers and creepy banger ‘Bury A Friend’ with unusual changes in pace and sound effects that keep you on your toes. Nothing on When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is predictable or coloured inside the lines. The whole album is produced and co-written by Billie’s brother FINNEAS who did an exceptional job on creating the soundscape with his sister that she deserves. The absence of established hit producers makes this album stand out from all other pop releases of today!
Although as expected, Billie’s debut is an experimental pop album with some seriously dark undertones, it is not all sad and ominous. The record opens with an intro of Billie and Finneas having fun in the studio, after which the thick beat of ‘Bad Guy’ drops. It shows that Billie has a playful side too, which we also started to see on the most recent promo single ‘Wish You Were Gay’! After poking fun at this guy that is acting all tough, she drops the lines: “I’m that bad type, Make your mama sad type, Make your girlfriend mad tight, Might seduce your dad type, I’m the bad guy, Duh!” Even her sass is beyond her years!
‘Bad Guy’ is not the only slightly more carefree upbeat moment we get. On ‘All Good Girls Go To Hell’ she plays with biblical imagery and the notions of good and evil over one of the most swinging beats of the records with a lush production with distorted vocal effects and soaring synths. ‘My Strange Addiction’ fits in the same category with an incredibly catchy chorus over a seductive bass line and some dialogue bits of an episode of The Office. When you are Billie and Finneas, you can simply do that! ‘Ilomilo’ referencing the game and talking about fear of losing the one you love, is one of the most intriguing and experimental productions on the whole record, but the same time feels surprisingly light and soothing.
For everyone thinking they could finish this record without some proper punches straight in the feels, you were all wrong! The last three tracks are all stunning ballads with titles that form the sentence ‘Listen Before I Go’, ‘I Love You’, ‘Goodbye’. The first one is a dark story told from the perspective of someone struggling with depression and seemingly seeing suicide as the only way out. ‘I Love You’ is the stand out of the three in terms of melodies and vocals, including harmonizing with her brother. That chorus soars and makes for a proper climax at the end of this album.
It has been said before and will be said many more times in the near future, but it is hard to believe that Billie Eilish was able to create this record when just 17 years old. Her sound is completely her own, which is rare for an artist on her debut album. Together with her brother Finneas, she does not necessarily colour outside the lines; she created a whole new canvas on which they work within their own soundscapes without worrying about hit singles or radiofriendly choruses. Eilish does not have to adapt to fit trends; she is the trend.