Indie-pop artist Billie Eilish’s debut album “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” brings us a new way to interpret the darkness in the world through musical language.
The 17-year-old singer and songwriter is set to become one of the very first musical stars of Generation Z, creating moody and heavy music that is intensified by creepy bassline beats, dead eyes and flowing black tears. This particular aesthetic is especially perfected in Eilish’s new album, which also features sultry-sounding tracks and haunting ballads.
Co-written and produced by Eilish’s older brother Finneas O’Connell, “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” opens with a 14-second track entitled “!!!!!!!,” in which the singer introduces the album by taking out her Invisalign. The track demonstrates the excitement of both Eilish and her brother, while showing their effortless chemistry. From the strange intro, the album moves straight into “bad guy,” a song sounding much like a supervillain’s anthem with its sardonic lyrics and playful beat, satirically portraying Eilish as the bad girl in a relationship.
The tracks on the album are ordered perfectly, each song coming across as its own masterpiece, making the album a creepy yet wonderful place to effortlessly lose yourself for the 42 minutes it lasts.
Eilish credits her own night terrors and lucid dreams for the content of the album, which mostly handles dark obligations. Abductions, school shootings and the fires of California are only some of the real-world horrors that inspired the album. This, combined with the singer’s feathery vocals and grisly bass, provides listeners with something creepy yet delicate, much like a spider, Eilish’s signature spirit animal. The best examples of this style come to listeners in the songs “you should see me in a crown,” “xanny” and “bury a friend.” “You should see me in a crown” lulls audiences into a false sense of peace, then suddenly drops the bass, leaving us with an almost sinister dubstep sound. “xanny,” however, demonstrates sincere anxiety, Eilish’s voice crossing over the beat in what sounds like despair. “bury a friend” similarly denotes intimate feelings of angst and fear, the lyrics portraying what Eilish calls the “monster under her bed.”
In comparison to the dark music, however, “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” includes playful interludes, such as audio samples from the popular TV show “The Office,” and her own heaving cackles. These moments help ease the disbelief that Eilish is only 17, giving her music room to oscillate between serious and fun.
The album is extremely consistent as Eilish uses a specific voice, with the changing instrumentals existing to make each track different and more interesting. Eilish also does a great job of conveying her messages, using lyrics that seem to explore the “monsters” in her head.
This album stands out as one of the best debut albums of the decade, foreshadowing the impressive future projects still to come from Eilish. It can be described as riveting, and surprisingly bold with its dark subject matter pairing directly with ironic humor. “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” is available on Spotify and Apple Music, or can be purchased in stores for $12.59.