Billie Eilish’s “When We Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?” is Frighteningly Gorgeous

Billie Eilish performing in London, last month. Photo by RMV/REX/Shutterstock (10143833g)

Before we’d even played the first track, we knew that Billie Eilish’s highly anticipated debut album would be different. For starters, the album cover is pretty scary and the opener is 14 seconds long and is titled “!!!!!!!”.

Eilish records herself pulling out her Invisalign and introduces the album with a roaring laugh and gets straight down to it with “Bad guy”, an unexpected surprise. It’s more like a trap song than the rock tune we were expecting and has a creepy vibe and eerie sex appeal. It’s hard to believe that Eilish is only 17 and she is already experimenting so boldly with her music.

In “xanny“, everything is stripped back and she distorts her voice in a way that tricks you into thinking one of your earphones are broken. Even with the crackly distortion, you can’t help but think “oh man, this girl can sing.”

The lyrics across the album are a mix of badass hisses and grinding anxiety. Every now and then, Eilish throws us a lyric that gets us cracking a smile. In “All the good girls go to hell” she sings “All the good girls go to Hell / ’cause even God herself has enemies” and we’re feeling all feminine and empowered. In this track, she also introduces some electric guitar which returns in the subsequent tracks.

The slightly cheesy but gorgeous “Wish you were gay” is an anthem for every girl who accidentally fell in love with her best friend growing up. She sings: “To spare my pride / To give your lack of interest an explanation / Don’t say I’m not your type / Just say that I’m not your preferred sexual orientation.” The track shows off her lush vocals as does the subsequent ‘when the party’s over’, which sees Eilish dueting with a piano.

The early single “Bury a friend” is also an album highlight and another good example of Eilish’s creativity with a vocoder. The penultimate track “I love you” is stunning and the album closer, “goodbye”, is a quieter moment. The track is a culmination of every song on the album rewinding all the way back to the album opener “Bad guy”.

Overall, Billie Eilish’s debut album is the kind of brave and fiery album we needed when we were 17. Eilish is unafraid to explore all sides of her character and this is reflected in the way she playfully experiments with her music, flitting between an anxious and empowered state. There is, of course, room for improvement but we cannot wait to see what the rising star does next.

4/5