But there was no purpose to doubt Billie Eilish, because it seems, as a result of removed from being the sufferer of the dreaded “second album syndrome”, Happier Than Ever has turned out to be a triumph that’s neither higher nor worse than her debut When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, however merely a courageous new path.
With opening observe Getting Older, already we’re listening to a extra refined, however less complicated, sound. The nuances of Billie’s emotive voice are clearer than ever, virtually like she’s crooning straight into our ears. But greater than that, it displays a painfully trustworthy artist, reflecting on her youth in a means that too many people are nowhere close to courageous sufficient to strive.
That vulnerability continues with songs like Halley’s Comet, a easy piano quantity with balladic guitar licks and a distorted, retro piece on the finish; Your Power, a sombre acoustic tune confessing the extent of how she’s been taken benefit of in her youth; and Male Fantasy, a rustic flavoured lament about love that lingers even when it’s clearly faux.
But as naked as she lays herself in these moments, she reveals a extra empowered, assured aspect on I Didn’t Change My Number; a percussive observe which sees her voice at its most sensual, mixing lounge singer vibes with jarring electro. It reveals that whereas Happier Than Ever is a departure from When We All Fall Asleep…, it’s nonetheless very a lot a Billie Eilish x Finneas creation.
Lost Cause is a bass-y delicate rock quantity that reveals extra confidence and internal energy, however for a observe that’s so common, it’s unusually one of many extra bland numbers on the album.
There’s loads of optimism right here; My Future is a love track to herself – there’s such a purity to Billie’s voice right here, and this was our first style of the downtempo jazz-pop that we bought for Happier Than Ever.
But whereas her positivity is evident, she isn’t afraid to complain concerning the trials and tribulations of fame. OverHeated has a sort of eerie monotony as she displays on that surreal second when the paparazzi snapped her in tank prime, whereas NDA is an angsty quantity that treads rock territory with anthemic membership components. It’s a bit bit far and wide however what it does do is segue fantastically into the subsequent observe, Therefore I Am, which is well essentially the most infectious observe on the album.
It might shock many who nonetheless see Billie because the pure 15-year-old behind Ocean Eyes, however she’s unafraid to speak about her sexuality as a 19-year-old girl who was unafraid to don corsets and stockings for the entrance cowl of Vogue.
Billie Bossa Nova has a well-recognized tone that harkens again to songs like ilomilo and my unusual habit, however with attractive lyrics a few lodge room affair, and issues get much more scorching and heavy on Oxytocin. It’s an ethereal electro-pop quantity with evocative vocal echoes that make us yearn for the dance flooring and is the surprising album spotlight.
The maturity in contrast with When We All Fall Asleep… is stark if you have a look at tracks reminiscent of GOLDWING. It opens with Enya-esque harmonised folks as Billie sings an English translation of a Hindu hymn, earlier than stuttering into scattered rhythm the place she speaks from expertise in warning the unspoilt “angels” of the world to watch out for those that wish to tear them aside.
While we first hear the phrases “happier than ever” on observe one, Happier Than Ever as a track summarises the album splendidly in each sound (an virtually blue-eyed soul quantity remodeling into scuzzy pop-punk melody is the sort of juxtaposition that Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas are consultants at) and lyrics (it being a break-up lament that expresses the vulnerability of shedding a relationship whereas acknowledging the energy of leaving an individual who compromises one’s personal happiness).
It’s been a course of, however Billie Eilish appears lastly to have come into herself, discovering a solution to be trustworthy with out sharing an excessive amount of of her life, and shrugging off the angsty, naive teenage persona of her earlier work.
There’s a sure uncooked honesty right here – unmarred by nuance and metaphor – with a expertise that may be in contrast with the likes of Radiohead, Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey. There was each purpose to fret that Happier Than Ever wouldn’t reside as much as the lofty heights of When We All Fall Asleep…, however elevated fame and finances has not, it appears, spoiled the character of her new music.