Written Before Listen
Billie Eilish is an American singer, songwriter and superstar of current music. Being only 19 years old in the world for music, she has created a fanbase that is very singular, stereotypical but devoted. Personally, I haven’t heard enough Billie Eilish to judge how I feel about her music. The song “Bellyache” was my introduction to her music back in 2017 and it’s not a bad song but nothing super special. The song “Ocean Eyes” is a very melancholic and dreamy song but there is a sense of immaturity to it that makes it undeveloped. The song “Bad Guy” took the world by storm and it’s probably my least favorite song by her despite liking it. The last song I heard from her was “No Time To Die” which was very dramatic, melancholic and very reminiscent of Lorde. Honestly, my opinion of Billie Eilish is that I see the hype, I enjoy her music more than her contemporaries, but she has yet to wow me. Let’s see if this album does such thing.
Billie’s most iconic feat is easily her vocal style. Her vocals are very mockable but its unapologetically hers. It’s very melancholic and sensual but also very silky, lush and bittersweet. Every once in a while you’ll get a headier voice like on “Oxytocin” or a scream like on the title track, but her vocal style doesn’t really go outside of that. Is that a bad thing? No, but it does take off a slight amount of points.
The production is handled by Billie’s brother Finneas. He himself, also does some music but its nowhere near as famous as Billie, as he is mainly connected to her and not the other way around. Despite that, he is still my favorite part of the album. The head nodding beat of “I Didn’t Change My Number”, the Industrial Dance styled “Oxytocin” and the genuine distortion of the title track. FINNEAS is not only a producers producer, but a producer who makes the artist an exaggerated version who the artist already is. We have a lot of stylistic switches on this album though.
Billie at the end of the day doesn’t really identify as a pure genre. She is a Pop artist but also an R&B artist at the same time. The song “I Didn’t Change My Number” has this laid back and swingy trip hop beat but with Billies vocal performance and the experimental synth shots, this track sounds like an Electro-R&B pop song that takes influence from the 90s Bristol scene and the 2000s South London scene. The song “Oxytocin” is another electro-R&B song but it takes influence from underground house music, club music, industrial and 2000s electroclash. The song “Your Power” is Billies take on a folk ballad as the country like acoustic guitar and folky delivery is mixed with ambient drums and electric piano. The title track is probably the biggest example of her genre bending though. It starts off as a traditional folk ballad but then goes into this noisy and grunge-inspired breakdown with Wall of Sound guitars, distorted drums and overall chaos. It’s like if Sufjan Stevens was making an album inspired by My Bloody Valentines ‘Loveless’. Overall, I will say that I love the stylistic differences throughout this whole album as it shows FINNEAS’ influence collaborating with Billies pop sensibilities.
Billie as a songwriter, is pretty bold in pop standards. She’s more on the introspective side of things this time around and not as “edgy” as her previous hits. On the opening track, she talks about internet stalkers, abuse and personal trauma. It’s a really touching track and as an introduction to the album, it fits. With songs like “OverHeated”, “Your Power” and the spoken word “Not My Responsibility”, Billie talks about objectivity in females and how Billie has experienced that in her own way. The songs “I Didnt Change My Number” and “NDA” showcase the dark side of fame from her perspective and despite sounding kind of spoiled, I understand that fame is a dark place and that being pointed out in public, especially at a young age, must suck. Overall, I think Billie is a talented songwriter. She occasionally suffers from repetitiveness but for the majority of the time, her music makes you keep one eye on the lyric sheet while the other focuses on the production.
I already kind of mentioned it, but her vocal style is kind of singular and with that, some of the songs struggle from sounding similar to each other. Billie is also a versatile artist but sometimes her stylistic choices are a small handful. We have the ambient ballads, we have the dancy bangers, we have the folk songs and we have catchy and groovy pop songs. Billie as a pop musician is as ambitious as ever, but it does come with its weak points and filler in the span of an hour.
Billie is a special talent. When it comes to mainstream artists, especially in pop music, this is one of the stronger releases of the year. It does suffer from being lengthy at points and the vocal performance sometime gets predictive. Before this album, Billie had yet to wow me. A good majority of the tracks still suffer from that but what I will say is that, there are 4 or 5 tracks that truly impressed me. Overall, solid album