When I first saw the buzz online about Billie Eilish releasing her debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” I found it hard to believe that she was just now putting her first album out. I had been hearing her name since early 2017 when a friend recommended her song “Ocean Eyes” to me. I thought it was nice, but it didn’t strike a nerve with me.
Then, I listened to “Bellyache” and thought that maybe I was on board with this young indie singer with blue hair and baggy Louis Vuitton clothes.
Eilish is likely still discovering herself as a musician, which could explain the hit or miss nature of the songs on “When We All Fall Asleep.” The album credits feature her brother Finneas, whom she wrote all the songs with. This made me wonder just how much was his influence and how much truly came from Billie, especially on the song “Xanny” with lyrics like “I don’t need a xanny to feel better” and “I’m too intoxicated to be scared.”
I didn’t feel that I got a sense of who she is, which is something that I look for in an album.
Instead, it seems like there are two sides to Eilish, one that sings with a soft siren-like voice over a blend of acoustic guitar and a steady bass (which I enjoy the most) and the Eilish that has a spider crawling out of her mouth, pushing her natural edginess to the point of overdoing it.
There are moments where I feel she really shines, like in the album intro where she laughs and says, “I have taken out my Invisalign and this is the album.”
“Bad Guy,” the first song, is a definite shining moment due to the stacked vocals, snaps and the whisper style of her voice. The best part of this one is the breakdown about halfway through where Eilish says “I’m the bad guy…duh” as if she is letting listeners in on a secret.
“Xanny” and “You Should See Me in a Crown” seem to blend into each other with not much variety in sound between the two. “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” had me intrigued with the title alone and kept me interested with the church bells and change in tempo from slow to upbeat.
“Wish You Were Gay” garnered some controversy for its subject matter. Eilish sings about preferring the guy she likes to be gay rather than just not want to be with her. That aside, this is one of the best songs on the album because of the sweet tone of her voice while delivering sassy lyrics, which reminded me of British pop star Lily Allen.
Listeners might recognize “When the Party’s Over” as the song where Eilish is, by some sort of camera magic, crying black tears while sitting in a white room. This almost sounds like a church hymn, somber and slow. I loved the harmonies and piano that were heavily featured in this one.
With “8,” I felt that the positive progression of the album had halted because it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, with the exception of the ukulele in the beginning. However, things began to look up again once “My Strange Addiction” started off with a clip from “The Office,” which is super weird but also genius.
I am usually not a fan of the water droplet effect being used in a song, but here I liked it. This was the first song from the album that I added to my library on Spotify. She won extra points with the “should’ve taken a break not an Oxford comma” line.
“Bury a Friend” is hands-down the best song on “When We All Fall Asleep.” A low, rumbling voice beckons “BILLIE!’ and then a bass heavy beat kicks in to accompany her eerie vocals. This song successfully delivers what Eilish was going for on many of the songs—spooky, yet still a bop.
In “Ilomilo,” there is a return to the same kooky formula from earlier on, though it isn’t memorable. “Listen Before I Go” is a beautiful ballad that has violins, thunder and rain sound effects and heart-wrenching lyrics like “Sorry can’t save me now, sorry I don’t know how.”
“I Love You,” the last full song before appropriately titled outro “Goodbye,” is another slow burn. Eilish’s strong suit lies in the down tempo ballads because we can pay attention to her vocal ability.
Eilish brought a group of songs that her longtime fans will likely enjoy because of the familiarity in the sound, but casual listeners may be left wanting more. There’s no doubt that she is talented, especially only being 17 years old, but I’m more excited to hear what her second album will sound like to see how she improves and finds her way.
My Rating: 3/5
Featured Image: Courtesy Facebook.