Stuck in a nightmare full of forest fires, hell-bent archangels, hatchets, frozen limbs, stapled tongues, and copious amounts of blood – Billie Eilish unleashes her inner demons, drowning us in her sultry voice and melancholy melodies.
With help from her brother, Finneas, her debut album, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?,” released March 29, immediately peaked at number one in the country on Billboard’s 200 chart.
At only 17 years old, Eilish has established herself as a musical prodigy, changing the meaning of “pop artist” with her alternative beats, electropop rhythm, classical voice, and tomboy-esque aesthetic.
The album opens with Eilish slurping into the mic, stating, “I have taken out my Invisalign and this is the album” before the bass drops and we are straight away led into her next track, “bad guy.” Eilish distorts her voice into a pulsating beastly growl, using high pitched synths and poppy undertones to establish that she is her own worst enemy.
Instantly following comes the song “xanny.” With minimal instrumentals, Eilish’s voice is highlighted throughout the slow-paced track. At the end of the song, her soft voice harmonizes in a cappella as she sings, “Come down / Hurting / Learning,” imitating a choir – going back to her roots when she first sang for her church.
Eilish continues to drag us into her subconscious and horrific dream sequence, with the song “all the good girls go to hell” – interweaving church bells and satanic sounds, while contorting her voice into an electric growl once again, singing, “My Lucifer is lonely / There’s nothing left to save now.”
The song twists Christian symbolisms, referencing climate change and natural disasters such as the wildfires in California – both her lyrics and her instrumentals set on fire.
Her nightmare continues as she sings, “For the debt I owe, gotta sell my soul / ‘Cause I can’t say no, no, I can’t say no / Then my limbs all froze and my eyes won’t close / And I can’t say no, I can’t say no” in her song “bury a friend.” The song, a monster ballad, numbs you as you are inflicted with sharp pauses in the beat and scattered heavy bass segments. Written from the perspective of a monster under the bed which Eilish can’t control. Eilish has formerly admitted to struggling with sleep paralysis in interviews and on social media.
“Bury a friend” directly flows into “ilomilo,” one of my personal favorites, as the beat changes from drum taps to a more delicate rhythm, equivalent to music from a music box. She skillfully changes tempos, her voice gliding like a ballerina over the wistful ballad as she sings, “Said I couldn’t love someone / ‘Cause I might break.” The song refers to a 2010 puzzle game where the player must unite “Ilo” and “Milo” – juxtaposing her fear of separation and isolation.
Eilish told PopBuzz that the final three songs on the album were intended to form a sentence, starting with “listen before i go,” then “i love you,” before ending with “goodbye.”
“Listen before i go,” is set in the tone of a suicide note, and might evoke a surge of tears – if songs could have disclaimers, surely this one would.
Eilish then transitions into “i love you,” a soft ballad about a complex relationship. Eilish sings, “Up all night on another red-eye / We wish we never learned to fly,” as the background features a flight attendant giving a flight safety speech.
In the final song, “goodbye,” Eilish combines different lyrics throughout all her songs besides, “!!!!!!!,” to create a farewell. “It almost feels like an R.I.P.,” Eilish said in her interview with MTV.
This album is unlike anything I’ve ever heard – captivatingly eerie in every way possible. Count your blessings instead of sheep, because Billie is coming.
You won’t be able to fall asleep after listening to this album.