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Take the Invisalign out, put the headphones in

Billie Eilish's debut album shows an experimental edge

Written By Dara Collins, Editor-Elect

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A 14-year-old Billie Eilish first catapulted into the music scene thanks to the beauty of social media. After Eilish posted “Ocean Eyes” on SoundCloud, her voice caught the attention of millions causing the tune to go viral, and the track has since been remixed a number of times.

Now 17, Eilish just dropped one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Last Friday, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” released across all platforms – and Eilish surpassed our expectations.

Apple Music labels Eilish’s music as alternative, but Eilish combated that in an interview with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe and said, “If people think I have a sound, if people are like ‘oh yeah, her sound is this,’ if someone asks you what my sound is and you have an answer for them – you’re wrong.”

Utilizing deep bass and macabre lyricism to contrast her melancholy, light voice, Eilish paints a beautiful yet sinister picture of the series of images running through her mind as someone who experiences night terrors, sleep paralysis and depression.

Eilish’s first full-length album follows her debut EP “Dont Smile At Me” from August 2017. The hits of “Ocean Eyes,” “Bellyache” and “Idontwannabeyouanymore,” and a series of singles including “lovely” with Khalid, a track featured on the “13 Reasons Why” soundtrack, kept Eilish’s fans hungry for more.

Prior to the release of the full album, Eilish teased us with four tracks from “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP.” “You should see me in a crown” released first and features dubstep bass drops to the chorus and a reference to Eilish’s roots as she coos, “Fell for these ocean eyes.”

“When the party’s over” followed in October 2018 as a stark difference to the earlier single. A raw piano ballad comparable to the sound of Lana Del Rey, whom Eilish is often compared to, shows off Eilish’s range and the sincerity of her vocals.

The third single, “bury a friend,” excited everyone as the first verse read, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” as if to remind us the series of hits were the crumbs leading up to the entire cake. The accompanying video to the track frightens anyone, and even those of us who, know Eilish’s style of visuals.

Dressed in white, asylum-like clothes, we see gloved hands aggressively yank and touch Eilish to the steady beat, and these same hands shove enough needles in her body to cover the entire upper half of her back.

“Wish you were gay” was the last single to be released just less than a month ahead of the album’s release date, and Eilish selfishly explains in the pop song she would rather be rejected because, “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.”

With four tracks leaving us drooling in anticipation, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP” satisfied the craving we experienced for so long – and Eilish was drooling a little, too.

“!!!!!!!” opens the album with Eilish slurping, “I have taken out my Invisalign and this is the album,” followed by hysterical laughter. The opener reminds us Eilish is still a teenager and refuses to take herself seriously at all times. The same reminder returns in “my strange addiction” as vocal snippets from The Office sneak into the lyrics.

“Bad guy” stole the limelight from “you should see me in a crown,” and joined the top four of the album. Eilish shifts sounds toward the last minute of the track with a bass drop and whispers through our headphones.

“Listen before I go” mirrors the ballad heard earlier in “when the party’s over,” and “I love you” continues the somber mood from the previous track. Eilish’s voice builds in the chorus to showcase crisp, flawless vocals before breaking to the next verse.

The ukulele strumming in “8” is a sound we can’t help but bop our heads and snap to and eventually tap our foot to the bass drum. Eilish’s voice resembles that of a child at times throughout the track.

Juxtaposing her typical childlike, soft sound, the heavy bass in the chorus of “xanny” distorts Eilish’s voice to mimic a growling monster while expressing her opposition to a topic covered extensively in today’s music. The song itself imitates a high with a slow, sluggish tempo change.

“All the good girls go to hell” possesses more of a pop sound than the other songs on the album, but also shares the distorted voice of “xanny.” Eilish barely speaks above a whisper when “ilomilo” begins and hints of electronic beats that mimic stutters surface before the tempo picks up in the second verse. The lullaby-like piano of the track complements Eilish’s soft tone.

“Goodbye” is a somber send off with an array of lyrics to the hits of the album, and if you’re smart, the repeat button will be highlighted, and the album can start all over again.

Critics and fans held Eilish to a high standard after the successes from her short career, and she fell nothing short of incredible. Our attention is secured on the soft-spoken artist accompanied by grotesque visuals and dark lyrics has – even when we fall asleep.

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