After multiple 100 million single views on YouTube and critically praised EPs, the wait is over for 17-year old pop star Billie Eilish’s debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go.”
Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O'Connell has been a worldwide phenomenon and intriguing teen to watch ever since her debut EP “Don’t Smile At Me” introduced a prodigy that the public hasn’t seen in a long time. Her viral hits of 2016 called “Ocean Eyes” and “Bellyache” is what I’d recommend listening to first if you are new to the Eilish wave.
She is a complete antithesis of a teenage musician with shocking yet ominous lyrics with a brazen standpoint of incoherence to traditional music rules. With over 10 million Instagram followers, not only her music represents a typical freshness but her unique innovation to fashion.
O’Connell’s upbringing is unlike many artists before her starting with being homeschooled. She’s been writing music ever since junior high yet her pen game is razor-sharp and salient ahead of her prime. Her older brother Finneas enlightened the arts into her career and her major inspirations of Tyler the Creator and Lana Del Rey shapes her subgenres.The poetry she writes balances a bridge of gothic self-awareness and sweet storytelling.
The intro reminds us right off the bat that Billie is still a presumptuous teenager, removing her braces to state “I have taken out my Invisalign and this is the album.” In the opening song “Bad Guy,” she seems to be toying with a lover and becoming a comic book character. The bass-heavy instrumental has a Gorillaz, modern-day technique to it as it suits her boastful toughness of a sarcastic villain.
This album is one of the few that not many artists can claim a technique so which is whispering. The majority of the album has Eilish singing in low tranquility. It’s highly expected that new listeners will turn up their sound systems to max volume to fully hear her messages. However, one of her main goals in the debut is high intimacy where she’s most comfortable in whispering.
“Xanny” is the next track that discusses Xanax, a prescription drug that’s recreationally used in hip-hop music today that’s unfortunately taken multiple artists’ lives. Billie reflects on this drug, wondering why stars are using it for fun and giving a message to never try prescriptions for un-related health concerns. “On designated drives home / only one who’s not stoned / Don’t give me a Xanny, now or ever,” she sings.
The pair of tracks that would disturb you from Billie’s artistry is “you should see me in a crown” and “Bury a Friend.” The haunting visuals of arachnids crawling upon and even inside Billie’s face in “crown” while she’s asserting herself to a throne speaks volumes to why she’s such a commodity. “Bury a Friend” has Eilish in one of her most vulnerable states of mind where she’s writing from the point of view of the monster inside herself. The self-destructive thoughts and imagery bring the answer to the title of her album of wondering if there’s an afterlife.
In the song “all good girls go to hell,” it’s an experiment of good and evil while using Bible images of judgment. “All the good girls go to Hell / ‘cause even God Herself has enemies / And once the water starts to rise / and Heaven starts to rise / She’ll want the Devil on her team.” She switches God’s usual, righteous view into an immortal being that’s in need of company from his archrival Lucifer.
The song that passed me by a few times would be “8” where her voice is definitely mixed with some sharp EDM tricks. If you were to guess that she would be sobbing, that’s a close answer as she is weeping over an ex of the past who views Billie as “see-through.” “Don't treat me badly / But you said it so sadly / So I did the best I could / Not thinkin' you would have left me gladly.” The vocals could have been mastered better. The track could be used for zoning out more fitting as an interlude.
There’s a track that’s a trip down memory lane with alternating snippets of the TV show The Office with the puzzling track “my strange addiction.” As it comes in the middle of the album, you can tell the mood shifts from cool aloofness to sullen despair as the lyrics get whimsically darker. Bite my glass, set myself on fire / Can't you tell I'm crass, Can’t you tell I'm wired / Tell me nothing lasts, like I don't know.” It’s anyone’s guess of what Billie is addicted to but the answer is not drugs because she references similar thoughts on self-medication in music today.
In the self-conscious “Wish You Were Gay,” a crush of Billie rejects her and she hopes the reason is he’s not attracted to women. An acoustic guitar with her soft-spoken voice cites the ironic meaning behind the lyrics because the boy was actually gay. One of the key tracks that unshelves her cocky exterior, you have to agree it’s a fun track to deal with boy problems.
“Ilomilo” is one of my favorites since she’s trying a sound of reverberating her voice with an electronic vibe. The track is like a puzzle as she worries about a suicidal friend stating, “Said I couldn’t love someone ‘cause I might break / if you’re gonna die / not by mistake.” She explained to Genius that the song is about fear of separation from her close friends where one could be the late rapper XXXTentacion. You could feel the rapid tempo in the beat rising almost like a retro Spider-Man video game in a boss fight stage.
Eilish’s vocals get more effervescent with her piano ballad in “listen before you go” focusing on suicide or depression which she has been honest about in her career. It seems as the grimmer her lyrics showcase, the more of her vocal talent is expressed in haunting poetry.
She whispers the mixed emotions of a complex relationship on “I Love You,” continually reminding the public that a soft, charismatic voice can send heartfelt messages across a nation. This is her longest song to date produced by her older brother and executive producer FINNEAS who shares similar harmonies with his sister.
“Goodbye” is the outro that includes a verse culminating lyrics of every previous track on her album in reverse order. Billie Eilish is changing the landscape on what the traditional makeup of teen pop stardom should look like. Her nonconformity to the music industry’s stereotypical, mainstream image shows resounding growth to her songwriting and instrumentation. This debut should be an enjoyment for the masses as a critical jumpstart to a trailblazing career.