Billie Eilish presents her second album. On “Happier Than Ever”, the 19-year-old deals intensively with her life – and doesn’t find herself clever in a terrific, entertaining way.
Billie Eilish is still a teenager until December 18, 2021, the day of her 20th birthday. And as such a highly contradictory being, as can be seen very clearly from the 16 songs on their second album “Happier Than Ever”.
One of the most famous teenagers of her time
It’s easy to forget how young Eilish, who still lives more or less with her parents in Los Angeles, actually still is. Because in the two or three years since her debut “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”, The best-known and most influential under-20-year-old in the world alongside Greta Thunberg has not only set the pop cosmos in motion with her songs no other. No, Billie Eilish has long stood for much more than just her music – which she composed and recorded on the new record together with her five-year-old brother Finneas.
Billie Eilish is, in the true sense of the word, an influencer, perhaps the most powerful of all creatives. Not only has she won seven Grammys in a short time, dominated the charts and sang the James Bond song “No Time To Die” (which is unfortunately missing on “Happier Than Ever”). Their influence extends far beyond the songs.
The discussions about her person are processed musically
When Billie Eilish talks about mental health problems, an audience of millions feels understood. And when, after years in veiled and explicitly anti-irritating outfits, she suddenly shows herself on the cover of “Vogue” with a blond mane and a tailor-made Gucci corsage, then there is no hot topic of conversation for days, especially on the Internet.
The discussions about her art and her person have not gone unnoticed by Eilish, how should they. “Some people hate what I wear, some praise it”, she sings, no she says in the evocative, haunting, spoken word piece “Not My Responsibility”, which almost looks like a long yoga mantra. And asks her listeners if they would prefer her to remain silent in order to come to the wise conclusion that other people’s views about her are not their area of responsibility.
Nothing but compassion for the young singer
Self-reflection is the central theme on “Happier Than Ever”. And that sounds more boring than it is. When she sings about her insecurities, self-doubts and fears, about external perfection or lack of it, about men who are sexually inexcusable towards young women, such as in the tonally minimalist but maximum intensity of “Your Power”, then you feel nothing but empathy and attachment to the sensitive Eilish. You just want to hug her for a moment.
Different tones than in the hit “Bad Guy”
The siblings succeed perfectly in creating closeness through the choice of their artistic means. In “Getting Older”, the introspective first song, Billie’s singing is more of a mumbling as she ponders not only having to deal with pressure and responsibility, but also with the occasional stalker at the parental doorstep. Yes, you can even hear her breathing, and with difficulty. In any case, it is noticeable how cautious and quiet the album is overall.
As danceable, snappy, darkly dramatic and guided by the bass beat like their big hits “Bury A Friend” and “Bad Guy” it only gets occasionally. “Therefore I Am” and “NDA” come closest to the earlier songs with their accelerated electronic pulse, and “Overheated” also works with its techno touch in the clubs.
Typical teenage problems with love and boys
As far as love is concerned, Eilish positions himself as a typical, immensely fickle teenager. While she is currently single, scolding her ex-boyfriend in the catchy “Lost Cause” but not getting anything on the chain, she whispers in “Halley’s Comet” again in this nightclub-jazz-affine way that the yearning man more often shows up in her dreams as she thought, what must be connected with the fact that she is falling for a long time.
The title track “Happier Than Ever”, as the penultimate song on the record, then picks up all the apparent contrasts and incompatibilities, yes all the loose ends in the plot of Billie Eilish being as such – and does not bring them together, but in an overwhelming and epic way. At first you only hear her, by the way really beautiful and changeable voice, this time to the acoustic guitar and in whisper mode singing about her own happiness.
Big drama at the end of the title track
Then the whole thing explodes quite suddenly, develops into a big drama, to reckoning with yourself, the ex-boyfriend dodel and everyone else who feels addressed by so much wonderful, female anger. In “Happier Than Ever” there is the final culmination of their cosmos. Once Eilish with almost everything. If the second half of the song were a Tarantino film, no one would have survived. This is how great art works.