Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish Album review by Adam Fink for Northern Transmissions

Darkroom/Interscope Records

9

Billie Eilish

Happier Than Ever

Every few years an unknown act comes along and completely changes the way that we listen to music. In 2019, Billie Eilish released her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? which debuted at the top of the charts and pretty much decimated the way that we recognize pop music. That album was full of the best kind of teenage melodrama. Infinitely relatable to anyone who ever lived through that period of their life but tempered with a uniquely mature perspective. Happier Than Ever follows suit perfectly. Though this time Eilish directly confronts her newfound fame, growing up in the spotlight and the misogyny that has come along with it. Produced by her brother and collaborator Finneas, Happier Than Ever, solidifies Eilish’s reputation as a once in a generation artist.

The album is a moody piece. It’s not something that you would associate with any breakout pop sensation but one of the many things that sets Eilish apart from her contemporaries. The record kicks off with “Getting Older”, which may seem ironic at Eilish’s tender age of 19 but with the things she has seen and the experiences she has had over the last couple years would understandably make anyone understand that adage, “Age is nothing but a number”. The chorus is absolutely devastating, especially coming from someone we perceive as so young and inexperienced but to hear Elish sing, “Things I once enjoyed/Just keep me employed now/Things I’m longing for/Someday, I’ll be bored of/It’s so weird/That we care so much until we don’t.” It can hit hard at any age. While the record never feels sluggish at all, “Oxycotin” steps up the pace considerably with its deep house feel. It feels like her most grown up song yet and also shows that while not only being serious, Eilish has a fully formed lyrical style. She sings off the top, “If you only pray on Sunday, could you come my way on Monday?/‘Cause I like to do things God doesn’t approve of if She saw us”. Throughout the album, Eilish directly addresses the unfortunate misogyny that she has had to deal with growing up as a young woman in the music industry. “Not My Responsibility” is a harrowing example of this. As a minor who became world famous and had an infinite amount of discourse about her own body, it’s empowering to hear her take back control of that discussion.

Happier Than Ever may not be full of the summertime party jams we have come to expect from our pop stars but Billie Eilish isn’t the kind of pop star we should be putting our own expectations on. The album is a thoughtful exploration of growing up and the pressures and responsibilities associated with it. Lucky for us all, Eilish is a talent beyond her years and is able to condense these huge issues into easily understandable lyrics that not only showcase how talented she is but also how smart. It is a beautiful album and one that will inspire and provoke conversations for many years to come.