Billie Eilish — Happier Than Ever

The young superstar Billie Eilish shows us her most vulnerable side.

For his second long-playing record material, billie eilish I had all the pressure in the world on me. At her young age, all the spotlights seemed to be on her and her brother. Finneas in 2019 with the release of his debut album, When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The subsequent mega-success of this album only raised her celebrity status to levels she never expected, and in turn generated another wave of negative attention to her image and people who thought her acclaim was undeserved. You can see all this in more detail in the documentary film The World’s a Little Blurry.

A series of awards later, including the grammys for Album of the Year, also after doing a Bond song with hans zimmer and have a book and a documentary about her, billie eilish seems not to care too much about pleasing, but instead gives us a second album that doesn’t seek to be a carbon copy of his debut, but that doesn’t distance himself too much from the sound that won him so many followers.

Billie-Eilish-Happier-Than-Ever

Happier Than Ever contains some irony in its title and feels more personal than anything the young singer has done in the past, themes such as overcoming an abusive relationship and dealing with negative attention are key in these 16 tracks. Throughout 56 minutes, Eilish battle with diverse emotions from anguish, loss, anger and self-acceptance to the rhythm of sounds as diverse as R&B, pop, folk, electronic, industrial and even rock.

The impeccable production of Finneasthe secret weapon of billie eilish, shines once again here, from delicate acoustic guitar sounds, basses that demand listening with headphones or a good stereo and in a noise-free environment, to interesting experiments with R&B and minimalist electronics. One can get lost in the delicacy and emotionality of “Your Power” or move smoothly to the rhythm of Billie Bossa Nova.

“Getting Older” introduces the album with a distant arpeggiator and a description of what it feels like to grow up for the American singer, the obstacles of fame and the challenge of overcoming an abusive relationship. These are themes that she explores again later in “Your Power”, “NDA” and the title track is a preview of what awaits us.

With “I Didn’t Change My Number”, Finneas gives us a taste of that minimalist electronic sound, part ominous, part seductive that will explode in various parts of the album with the peculiar and ethereal voice of her sister that describes her most vulnerable side.

Where the experimental part of the production shines the most comes later with “oxytocin” Y “Goldwing”two of the most interesting cuts he has given us billie eilish. The first recalls the combination of the sinister and the sensual in the music of Trent Reznor, the second combines a kind of Gregorian chant composed of delicate and beautiful vocal harmonies with a kind of reggaeton beat, it sounds confusing, but it works.

As for the promotional singles, “My Future” has a very personal charge, of empowerment and self-acceptance (“I’m supposed to be happy with someone, but aren’t I someone?“), on the other hand, “Lost Cause” sound of 90s R&B feels somewhat superficial in comparison despite the fact that it enters the part of the overcoming of the aforementioned.

“Not My Responsibility” with its minimalism it is more than just an interlude, lyrically speaking it is essential to delve into the artist’s mind and understand how she deals with body shaming and the negative attention towards their sound and their way of being and acting. A year ago billie eilish released a video clip with the same title, in which he was seen in the dim light stripping off his characteristic baggy clothes, to the rhythm of an ascending and descending synthesizer, above all his voice questions the criticism he receives about his image and his decision to cover her body for comfort and to avoid being sexualized. As part of an album it makes sense and is a message worth listening to, but after listening to it too many times you’ll probably skip it. Fortunately it transitions to “Overheated” that takes advantage of its minimalist synthesizer for a more moving and interesting theme.

“Your Power” is one of the most emotional moments on the album, the voice of billie eilish shines more than ever in the middle of an echo chamber and with only an acoustic guitar to accompany it. “Try not to abuse your power / You might not wanna lose your power, but power isn´t pain”, the young woman sings with a voice that seems to burst into tears at any moment. It is lulling and at the same time very powerful, proof that less is more when it comes to conveying emotion, it is a theme about control and manipulation in a relationship with which many people can identify and empathize.

The middle part of the album slows down the initial momentum a bit with Halley’s Comet either “Everybody Dies”but towards the end it takes a new flight. “NDA” is the song that comes closest to the sound of When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? with its somewhat gloomy sound and vocal harmonies, it is a continuous crescendo which makes a perfect transition to “Therefore I Am”the most moving, catchy moment and the most obvious hit on the album.

The final stretch of the album continues to rise with “Happier Than Ever”a very retro acoustic ballad in its first half, which takes a turn and becomes the most raucous and cathartic song he has given us billie eilish. Guitar blasts and screams express the singer’s anguish -influenced by Phoebe Bridgers out there – and his desire to get rid of a harmful person. Unfortunately, after a series of signs of self-improvement, “Male Fantasy” closes on a bittersweet and discouraging note where Eilish he admits that he will not be able to get over this person no matter how hard he tries to forget him.

Usually, Happier Than Ever It is a round, exciting and cohesive album, it expands the singer’s sound, but with almost an hour of duration she was able to do without moments that make it a bit tedious halfway through. Luckily, she picks up in the final third and makes this a successful sophomore effort—not counting her debut EP—that lives up to the hype.

If you weren’t hooked by the particular sound and style of billie eilish in the past, you will hardly change your mind with this new album. If, on the other hand, you were craving more than what made you a fan in the first place and something new while waiting for that canceled concert at the Sport’s palace rescheduled one day, you won’t be disappointed.

Essential Songs: “Oxytocin”, “NDA”, “Therefore I Am”, “Happier Than Ever”, “I Didn’t Change My Number”

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