After rising to fame in 2017 with her multi-layered vocals on the viral hit ‘Ocean Eyes,’ 17-year-old Billie Eilish makes a dramatic return with her full-length debut studio album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO? The morbid love child of the witchy sensations of Lorde, mixed with the avant-garde sounds of Lana Del Rey, Billie is the revolutionary teen smashing genre stereotypes and creative limitations. With hauntingly stunning vocals that put you in a soporific state, and eerie oddball sounds that make the hairs on your back spike upright, this album will send you down a spiraling downward fall into the nightmares and horrors of Billie’s perturbed mind.
The album opens with a short candid clip of Billie taking out her retainers and exclaiming, “This is the album” with her brother, Finneas, who is the co-producer and lyrical genius behind the songs. After she loudly slurps her Invisaligns, she descends into an evil cackle- inviting her listeners into her twisted mind. This opening sequence reminds us of her youthful and joyful state, whilst simultaneously setting up the picture of taking the first step into this haunted house.
The opening song, ‘bad guy’ is a thumping trap banger that draws its inspirations from DC Comics’ seductive, Harley Quinn. She tiptoes through the destruction she causes, taunting, “I’m a make-your-momma-sad type, make-your-girlfriend-mad type, might-seduce-your-dad type/ I’m the bad guy.” Followed by a pause and a nonchalant “Duh” this song flaunts the power she harnesses within her. ‘bad guy’ can be linked with ‘you should see me in a crown’ where the bass-inducing beats and bad-a** lyrics make you feel like you can conquer the world.
The consequent song, ‘xanny’ is opposite in nature, as it’s a slow beat detailing the triumphs of teenage angst and drug abuse: “Please don’t try to kiss me on the sidewalk/On your cigarette break/I can’t afford to love someone/Who isn’t dying by mistake.” This was reportedly a tribute to her close friend and fellow musicican, xxxtentacion.
Other slow songs on the album are ‘when the party’s over,’ ‘8,’ ‘listen before i go’ and ‘i love you,’ where the rawness and chillingly echo-strung bravado of Billie’s vocals, is reminiscent of bedroom pop, yet produced to fill hypnotic arenas. These slow ballads provide an unexpected juxtaposition to the rest of the album’s recurring trap beats and heavy bass.
Producing jarring sounds and rhythmic syncopations, this album provides many songs to create sharp choreography to. ‘my strange addiction’ is a menacing beat which incorporates interludes from the TV show, The Office. ‘bury a friend’ is the most gothic and grotesque piece, where the deep murmurs of a male voice mimics the demon under your bed.
Running with the album’s theme of horrors, ‘all the good girls go to hell’ is a wake-up call to the impending consequences of global warming. Painting a picture of water rising and flames burning, Billie urges actions to be taken, before Earth rapidly turns to Hell.
On ‘wish you were gay’ Billie deals with heartache by resorting to the conclusion that her crush’s unrequited love for her is due to his queerness: “To spare my pride/ To give your lack of interest an explanation/ Don’t say I’m not your type/ Just say I’m not your preferred sexual orientation.” To compensate for the non-mutual feelings, Billie blames his lack of interest in her, as a result of his sexual preference, not her personality.
The closing song ‘goodbye’ is a continuous melodic flow of a line from each of the 13 tracks, sewing up the mess of darkness and blithely aura. Filled with ASMR-inducing textures and haunting lyrical and melodic tremors, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO? is a thrilling album that will put your demons to rest.