Young artists in the music industry are nothing new, but recently it seems that teenagers have managed to dominate the charts with breakout albums. Lorde released her debut, Pure Heroine, weeks before her 17th birthday, while Khalid released his debut, American Teen, weeks after his 19th birthday. The newest addition to this collection of young breakout artists is Los Angeles born singer/songwriter Billie Eilish.
Eilish does not fully fit a specific genre, drawing influences from multiple artists. Her music began and continues to this day, to be a project shared by her and her brother turned producer, Finneas O’Connell. She strings this idea together on her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. The album at certain times draws production comparisons to Kanye West’s Yeezus while also mixing ballads similar to artists such as Lana Del Rey. The first single off this album “you should see me in a crown” is the closest Eilish gets to a typical radio single. The beat drop and balance of soft verses to explosive choruses made the song an obvious choice for a single. The next single “when the party’s over” is the first of her track’s that caught my attention. The floating ballad about a lover pushed away features some of the greatest vocal harmonies and song balance in current popular music.
A few more singles and cosigns from major artists like Dave Grohl, built up to grand expectations for the debut album from the now 17-year-old. Although her music is hard to define, and she does not wish to be labeled, she is currently growing in popularity through major streaming services. I also, think it is fair to argue this is one of the best albums to be released so far this year, no matter the genre. The highlights of this album are seen in the production. “my strange addiction” utilizes a seemingly basic pop beat and samples from the TV show The Office. The beat builds through the chorus to a catchy and exciting peak. The production of “xanny” mirrors a drug induced haze, highlighted by piano riffs and heavy vocal effects centered on the chorus.
The song “wish you were gay” is a song Billie writes out of fear that she is undesirable due to some serious issue of her own character. Instead of confronting this issue she would rather excuse that the person could never be interested in her and it is no fault of herself. The track “bury a friend” is where her dark songwriting and production excels the most. The eerie song tries to tackle the idea of monsters under our beds, while also admitting that the worst monster is often ourselves. Some of the creepy samples and sound effects include shattering glass, distorted vocal layering, and the sound of a medical drill.
The album ends with three songs that I think must be listened to together to fully appreciate. The piano ballad “listen before i go” transitions into the acoustic guitar driven and emotionally pleading song “i love you”. Lastly, the album wraps up with the mostly a cappella “goodbye”. This last trio of songs fully allows Billie to showcase the power that her voice has in its purest and often quietist forms. Overwhelming public opinion of Eilish in her rise to fame was that she made sad music for teen girls. While this may be her target demographic, it is irresponsible and disrespectful to back her into a corner with that analysis. Hopefully, this album will get the critical acclaim it deserves, because Billie Eilish has a powerful voice that deserves a place in popular music. Oh also, did I mention she’s only 17 years old? Yeah, we’re going to get a lot more amazing music from her in the future.
Stream the album below: