Some people were born to perform, and looking at Billie Eilish, it’s evident that she’s among them. From her often-silver hair to her eccentric, neon-drenched brand of personal style, Eilish commands attention. She was only 14 when her breakout single, “Ocean Eyes,” took off unexpectedly. Three years later, the singer-songwriter has seen seven tracks hit the Billboard 100 and has amassed billions of streams – without ever releasing an album. Until now.
The world can’t get enough of this angsty, irresistible performer who seemingly came out of nowhere (LA, actually), delivering hit after hit since her unlikely debut. Her first full-length release, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? delivers on all of that promise, building on her strengths – catchy production underscoring cheeky lyrics – while not afraid to go in new directions. Finneas O’Connell is the producer and co-writer of all of Eilish’s music, and he also happens to be her brother. On this record, they take on a more experimental approach production-wise, lacing vocal samples throughout and concentrating on heavier electro-pop beats than we’ve heard from them in the past. Instrumentation is sparing and intentional, hitting in all the right places without being overwhelming.
On When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Eilish creates sonic landscapes that are emotional and contemplative, yet still highly danceable. Even the saddest-sounding songs lyrically, like “bury a friend,” will make you want to move. Her words are conversational, personal and imaginative, often based on what she and her brother are going through at any given time. But Eilish doesn’t necessarily want the listener to be in on that conversation – instead, she prefers to leave her art open for interpretation.
Songs like “bury a friend” and “bad guy” are bass-heavy and dance-ready, while “goodbye” and “i love you” are more reminiscent of ballads, pensive and dreamy, focusing heavily on vocal harmonies. As a whole, the album is pop music through and through, laced with Eilish’s own distinctly edgy spin. On it, she examines topics universally relatable to teenagers and adults alike: love, heartbreak, and losing friendships. Musically and personally, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is a big step forward for Eilish.