We’re "Happier Than Ever" with Billie Eilish’s new music
After just two years of her sensational debut album, Billie Eilish has gifted us with another full-length record.
Written and produced with the same personnel as When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, the new album, Happier Than Ever, is wrapped in shadows like the first, while being noticeably more mature.
As was hinted by the singles from the album, Happier Than Ever makes it evident that Billie's overall musical style has not seen much change. The sound layering remains minimalistic while still managing to fit in elements from other genres like alternative, pop, R&B and even jazz.
The trap beats are there, so are the eerie synth works, and of course, Billie's signature singing- low and airy, almost whispered, yet every nuance is audible, the clarity unbelievable. It's always a treat to hear the quiet instrumentals bring out the charm of her vocal work even more, although the subpar sound design of some synths did put me off a little.
The music itself has never been what makes her songs special; the lyrics play that role. Billie's ability to open up and lay herself bare for the world to see through her music never ceases to be amazing, which is not an easy feat for a teenager. It's evident how much self-reflection is accumulated in the lyrics. There's a lot less aggression or bitterness than her previous album, the space made by their absence replaced by an air of acceptance. With simple and heartfelt words, she talks about abuse, loss, choices and mistakes -- and the way she does it sends shivers up your spine.
Love comes up again and again in the tracks "Halley's Comet" and "Billie Bossa Nova". The simplistic wording of these songs will make Billie's lines feel like she wrote down thoughts that have often run through your head. The jazzy guitar in the latter track is a nice touch, and puts a smile on my face.
"I Didn't Change My Number", "Lost Cause" and the title track "Happily Ever After" are the pieces about failed relationships. Disdainful lyrics aren't really my cup of tea, but I liked that she also seemed aware that the hate is merely a way of coping with the pain of separation.
"My Future" and "Everybody Dies" move the focus from others to the self. Her wishes for self-improvement and thoughts about the uncertain future are perfectly relatable, no matter what the age gap is between her and the listener.
"Oxytocin" is quite a surprise, being a rare high-energy track from Billie. The screams at the climax are bloodcurdling. Lyrically, "Overheated" has the same effect, but the macabre keys take you instead for an unsettling, borderline creepy ride.
"Not My Responsibility" stands out with its change in vocal style. The song is a series of spoken verses about people's narrow mindedness and their tendency to be judgmental about other people's appearance.
The most thoughtful piece from the record is probably "Your Power". Her plea to not use power for oppression is something to take heed of as it's a crime everyone's guilty of to some degree.
I left the opening song for last as it struck a chord with me. I won't elaborate, these lines from "Getting Older" say it all:
I'm getting older
I've got more on my shoulders
But I'm getting better at admitting when I'm wrong
Happier Than Ever is a long night spent lying on your rooftop, looking at the distant stars with thoughts of your present and past swirling in your mind. I'm sure it'll become a beloved companion for those struggling with similar issues, and of course, those with a taste for somber soundscapes.
Sabih Safwat is always up for trying new music. Send him songs to listen to at email@example.com