Let me start this review out with a confession. When I first listened to Billie Eilish, I was not a fan and I didn't really understand what the hype was all abouy. The first two songs I heard of hers were "idontwannabeyou" and "lovely" and they didn't leave much of an impression on me, so I ultimately ignored her. This led to me getting some heat on Twitter for expressing my disinterest, so I made a promise to the "haters" that I would give her debut album a chance to change my mind once it came out. Guess what, guys? She did it. I'm now a fan.
WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is a ballsy, angsty debut from a 17 year old that makes Lorde's Pure Heroine look soft. The Los Angeles native not only made songs that you can tell she's proud of writing, but it has a cohesive concept that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It's clear that she has a way with words that I would have never been able to put together at her age. He lyrical content is dark, heavy, shocking, and painful, but in the best way imaginable. For example, one would think a song called "bad guy" would be about some asshole in her life when, actually, she's the villain. Or that a title like "xanny" is about a time when she tried drugs when, in fact, she's straight edge and doesn't need to be under the influence to be a "regular teen."
It's hard to categorize Eilish's music into just one genre, because it varies by song. Pop is the obvious general genre, but there are smaller hints of lo-fi, trunk-rattling trap, acoustic rock, R&B, and then some. The genius behind the overall sound of her music is none other than her older brother, FINNEAS, who's another young up-and-comer at just 21. He comes off as experienced. His wide range of beats and his ability to craft complex accents and melodies is highly commendable.
It was also a challenge to pinpoint what kind of a story the album was trying to play out as at first. I couldn't tell if it was a horror film, a romcom, a dark comedy, or a drama. Then I figured it out. It's simply a classic coming-of-age movie that almost anyone who has been a teenager could relate to. Think back to when you were 16 or 17 years old. At that age in our lives, we can all agree that the smallest thing would either piss us off, make us incredibly depressed, and/or that we may have thought we figured out what love was. That's what Eilish is able to cleverly convey with this album.
WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP is a generally strong debut that lets us get a first-hand examination of Eilish's mind and personality. She's able to remain an enigma to the public eye, but when she gets on the mic to express herself through music and lyrics, we get a better understanding. I was honestly ready to dislike the album, but I'm happy to report that that is most definitely not the case here. Billie also gets bonus points for successfully sampling the "Threat Level Midnight" episode of the The Office. ★★★★
Key Tracks: "bad guy" | "you should see me in a crown" | "my strange addiction"
★★★★★ Classic | ★★★★ Excellent | ★★★ Good | ★★ Fair | ★ Poor
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