Known for her unabashedly unique style and meteoric rise to fame, Billie Eilish released her debut studio album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? on March 29.
The album recently reached number one on the Billboard, selling over 300,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. during its first week. This makes Eilish the first artist born in the 2000s to have an album debut at number one and the youngest female artist to hit number one since Demi Lovato’s 2009 album Here We Go Again. She has also gained numerous celebrity fans, such as Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. The fanfare has been enormous, but does the album deserve the hype?
It would be easy to write off Eilish as a typical edgy 17-year-old with nothing unique to offer, but her music tells a different story. The depth and creativity that she portrays throughout this album, as well as her debut EP, Don’t Smile at Me, which was released in 2017, reveals that she has developed into a fully-formed artist in a very short period of time.
The album begins in a playfully perplexing way. The 14-second long intro track, “!!!!!!!,” which consist of Eilish making a slurping sound and saying, “I’ve taken out my Invisalign and this is the album,” before laughing hysterically, is just flat-out weird. However, one cannot help but revel in curiosity regarding what’s to come next.
The moods portrayed throughout WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? vary from bold and confident to melancholy and vulnerable. The hit singles “bad guy” and “bury a friend” feature a rather dark aesthetic without resorting to distortion or an overly-aggressive sound. The former contains an unexpected beat switch and change in delivery toward the end which keeps the track exciting all the way through.
Another lively standout is “my strange addiction,” which features snippets from the famed situational comedy “The Office.” The track is among the project’s most catchy songs, with an infectious chorus and some fun wordplay, such as “One of us is gonna lose. I’m the powder, you’re the fuse. Just add some friction,” and “It burns like gin and I like it. Put your lips on my skin and you might ignite it.”
Throughout her short career, Eilish has been compared to Lorde and Lana Del Ray. This may be most prevalent on the track “you should see me in a crown,” the structure and sound of which somewhat resemble Lorde’s 2014 song “Yellow Flicker Beat.” It’s hard to mind though, as the brooding sound and provocative lyrics create a song that’s great to vibe with.
A handful of soft, intimate tracks permeate the album, especially toward the end of the project. “when the party’s over” is the most powerful, with Eilish’s haunting vocals piercing through the listener. Conversely, on the track “listen before I go,” the minimal production mixed with Eilish’s slightly tedious delivery makes for a track that seems much longer than four minutes. It simply lacks the captivation of so many other songs.
Eilish finishes strong, though, with the beautifully executed “I love you” and “goodbye.” There is a certain hard-to-describe mystique to the album. Between the haunting vocals, complex themes and many quirks, it evokes a sense of wonder and fascination.
After finishing the album, one cannot help but gain an appreciation for Eilish’s talent and willingness to experiment. If she continues to pave her own way in the industry, her career will only prosper further.