Long-awaited Billie Eilish album satisfies growing fan base

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WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO, Billie Eilish finally breaks out of her shell and experiments with her musical style. Her debut album, dont smile at me, stayed cautiously within the confines of soft pop while adding shocking lyrics that sometimes didn’t match the less-intense instrumentals. In her new album, she matches the background music to her lyrics. For a 17-year-old, Eilish has already rapidly evolved from the beginning of her musical career

Her sophomore album came out at midnight March 29. The morning of, I woke up and downloaded it to listen to on my way to track practice. I was eager to see how her music had changed since her first album. Before the release of the album, Eilish had put out five of the songs as singles, so I already knew that this second album would reveal a new aspect of Eilish’s musical style.

I recommend listening to the album in order because the songs are grouped into the organization of a story, and sometimes the ending of one song will bleed into the beginning of another.

Oh, and one more piece of advice before you press play: Listen to it in your car.  Even if you’re not going anywhere, go outside, buckle up, turn the bass to max and get ready for an exhilarating roller coaster of an experience.

“!!!!!!!”

This is a 14-second intro of a group of other people and Eilish talking and laughing in the recording studio.

“bad guy”

This song is an absolute bop from second one. If you listen to “!!!!!!!” first, it goes straight into the beat of the song. Billie’s no B.S. attitude shows through in this song. She has a cocky air, calling herself the “bad guy … duh.” At about 2:40, the song changes beat and escalates dramatically. “bad guy” is very intense all-throughout and will be a really cool opening song in concert.

“xanny”

Played in order, “xanny” is striking in how opposite it is to the confident attitude Eilish conveys in “bad guy.” This song begins the album’s theme of being confident one moment and insecure the next. It’s reminiscent of her previous album which had more sad and mellow songs. The bass is still very intense at times, building up and then back down to just her voice. Since her last album, Eilish has been thrown into the world of fame and pop culture. With this comes the certain pressures of being famous and overworked. In this song, Eilish sings about the pressure to take a “xanny to feel better,” but not wanting to give in. She conveys her frustration at all the people around her who are using drugs as a temporary fix to problems and, ultimately, wasting their lives away.  

“you should see me in a crown”

This song was the first song Eilish released for her new album. Played after xanny, it returns to Eilish’s overconfident alter-ego. She imagines herself on a throne in an almost tyrannical stance against a boy who just wants to use her. I view this as Eilish’s twisted version of a “girl anthem.” She would never use cheesy language or an inspiring message, but her confidence is empowering.

“all the good girls go to hell”

This song is just another example of Eilish losing her fear of judgement in the musical world. In dont smile at me, she balanced her extreme lyrics with moderate and inoffensive bars. In this song, she lets loose and says what’s on her mind.

“wish you were gay”

This was the last of the singles Eilish released before her entire album dropped. In this song, she sings about wishing a guy was gay so that his sexuality would be the reason why he didn’t like her. I’ve listened to this song about 100 times, and it never gets old. It’s always exciting and a little relatable. She hits the mark in describing the embarrassment and anger that can come with rejection.

“when the party’s over”

For this song, I suggest reclining your seat all the way back and closing your eyes. While she was more angry in “wish you were gay,” this song shows how her anger manifests quickly into sadness. She begins to realize that to truly get over heartbreak, she just needs to let go.

“8”

This one starts out kinda creepy. The first 30 seconds consists of her singing in a voice that’s been morphed to sound baby-like. At about 46 seconds, we hear her real voice for the first time. She uses a similar style in “Party Favor” from the first album. In that song, she began with a voice that sounded slightly canny, as though it was coming through an old-fashioned phone, before clearing up to reveal her raw voice.

In “8,” she sings about regretting being open about her emotions and feeling “see-through” to the one person she wants to notice her. This song is less intense than some of her other songs like “bad guy” and “bury a friend.” It still carries the same message of being outcast and overlooked. She ends the song asking, “Do you even feel anything?” Her longing for attention and love is something that anyone can relate to.

“my strange addiction”

Eilish puts out a stone-cold front of emotion in interviews and on her social media. In this song, she admits to being completely consumed by the desire for her love interest. This honest confession of overpowering emotion is perhaps why she chooses to put in clips from season seven, episode 11 of The Office. It adds a light-hearted and amusing element to the song to cover its more emotional and vulnerable parts.

“bury a friend”

This song is about her sleep paralysis, a medical condition where a person loses the ability to move or speak while they are falling asleep or waking up. The bass is very intense. In my opinion, “bury a friend” is best heard in the car or through a loudspeaker system. It’s good in headphones too, but the experience isn’t the same. This “experience” is something that’s important to Eilish. Recently, she collaborated with Spotify to create a room for each of the songs on her new album for fans to visit. Each room has a different look and feel, letting the audience become submerged in the music. Since it’s highly unlikely that everyone will be able to experience the room for themselves, do yourself a favor and listen on a system that will amplify the instrumentals to the max.

“ilomilo”

Ilomilo is one of Eilish’s favorite video games. In an interview on the Youtube channel “FirstWeFeast,” she said, “It’s about losing the someone you love and finding them again.” The song itself revolves around a similar theme: Eilish struggles to keep the person she loves close to her, repeatedly asking “where did you go?” In parts of the song, her voice morphs in a way that is best described as if a strobe light had sound. It’s shaky, unpredictable and desperate; her last effort to reach the person she loves. Ultimately, she is unsuccessful.

“listen before i go”

You can get out of your car now. The first time I heard this song I was driving, and the sirens at the end scared me into slowing down to the actual speed limit. To save yourself the panic of getting pulled over, put in some headphones to listen to the rest of this album. This song starts the winding-down process that continues into the last three songs. It reverts back to her realization in “when the party’s over,” that to truly get over her heartbreak, she needs to let the person she loves go.

“i love you”

This has to be one of the sweetest songs I’ve ever heard. Its beautiful instrumentals paired with her raw vocals left me stunned. Parts of the song mimic “Hallelujah” by Handel. In “i love you,” Eilish reflects on her obsession. While she is no longer possessed by her longing, she still feels the pain of rejection. Throughout the song, she builds up the intensity, taunting a bass drop before dropping back down. This style conveys the idea that sometimes she can’t always channel the same level of confidence she’s experiencing in “you should see me in a crown” or “bury a friend.”

“goodbye”

This song is a mix of all of the songs on the album. It has its own tune and style, but most of the lyrics are recycled from previous songs. It does not conclude her heartbreak or give the audience relief that she is healed from her rejection. Instead, it realistically conveys that she is still affected by her heartbreak.

After listening to the album as a whole, I have to say that some of the songs that were released as singles are better within the context of the other songs on the album. For example, I didn’t immediately love “you should see me in a crown,” but now I see it as a depiction of the overconfident, self-assured side of her. I like the way she balanced out these types of songs with her more self-conscious, vulnerable self. It’s a very realistic depiction of what it’s like to be a teenager trying to make their way into the world.

WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO, is an honest depiction of Billie Eilish. Each song left me on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear what came next. I’m already looking forward to her next album.

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