BY MILES PREKOSKI
At the age of 14, Billie Eilish may have never expected that her 2016 song “Ocean Eyes,” posted on SoundCloud and co-written by her older brother Finneas, would go viral, turning heads of teenagers across America. Flash forward three years later: The 17-year old, baggy-clothes wearer and meteoric pop-sensation has established herself as one of the most prominent gothic voices in her genre.
Eilish’s debut album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” is in a world of its own. The 14-track, 42-minute-long project touches on different aspects of dreams, telling a different story and showing a unique perspective across almost every track. Written and produced along with her older brother solely in their childhood home in Los Angeles, Eilish paints dark, bass-heavy sounds contrasted by her angelic vocals.
The L.A. County native writes from the perspective of an evil character blurring the lines between good and bad, immediately establishing herself as a rascal in the industry. “I’m a make-your-momma-sad type, make-your-girlfriend-mad type, might-seduce-your-dad type,” she boasts. The song is melodic, building to a climax marked by a conceitful “Duh.”
“Xanny,” the second single on the project, isn’t exactly what’s expected from a song with such a title. Slow, Lana Del Rey-indebted lyrics linger throughout, as the young singer gives a hard N-O to drugs. “Don’t give me a xanny, now or never,” Eilish sings before the song launches into despair accompanied with a bone-shaking bass.
These two tracks are powerful and loud, just like Eilish and company want them to be. They get you jumping, but that consistency in mood and overall tone in writing and production have led many fans to wonder if the pop star will ever stray away from her cool, angsty style and pull back the curtain a little.
On this album, she does. Eilish’s smirking candor sucks you into her songs straight from the start, but this go-around, listeners of the project feel emotions, from sadness, heartbreak and mourning to undeniable laughter and grooviness.
Eilish dives deeper into her emotions on “Wish You Were Gay,” playfully poking fun at her own heartache. Instead of accepting that the love she feels is in no way unrequited after suspecting a lack of reciprocity, she asks to spare her own pride: “Don’t say I’m not your type, just say I’m not your preferred sexual orientation.” The somewhat deep track plays well with Eilish’s natural dark humor to cope with problems in her own relationships. Pair this with the blocky synths on “My Strange Addiction,” a song that garners laughter from its sample centered on dialogue from “The Office,”and you’ve got a good album.
Despite missteps in songs that don’t stick as much to listeners, like the ukulele tune “8” and the slightly repetitive “All The Good Girls Go to Hell,” Eilish still creates a project that could contend as the best pop album of the first half of this year. The young singer is vulnerable throughout, but the album is surprisingly emotionally cohesive, powerful and tongue-in-cheek. This album’s best songs nail the bad-guy vibe that Taylor Swift wishes she could have created on “Reputation.” In a few years, Eilish may just be the poster child of her genre.