Billie Eilish's "WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?" : A Powerful, Inventive Collection of Chilling & Thrilling Music
American singer Billie Eilish and her brother, Finneas O’Connor, have come together to create their debut album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? released on March 29th. From deep ghostly bass-heavy rhythms, down to intricate instrumentals, this album achieves a new level of creativity that artists spend their entire careers working towards.
The songs “you should see me in a crown” and “when’s the party’s over” were released as album singles, then “bury a friend” was also released as a single when the album became available for pre-order in January. The album’s fourth single was “wish you were gay,” and the final single was “bad guy,” released soon after the album on March 29.
Finneas O’Connor and Billie Eilish open the album with “!!!!!!!” a 13 second audio clip of Billie slurping out her invisalign and introducing the album, followed by a goofy outburst of laughter from the two siblings.
“Bad guy” throws listeners into a playful bass rhythm, a flush transition from the introduction and into the album. Billie’s sleek voice devliers lyrics intimately low, and after a beat change, into a whisper.
Billie addresses recreational drug use in the third track, “xanny.” Her voice sounds vulnerable and tender. Vocals are layered over one another, and her voice becomes distorted, altering between the left and right speaker singing “don’t give me a xanny now or ever,” almost like her own inner monologue. Her delicate voice hums an outro for the track, and repeats “come down, hurting, learning” echoing the end of the second verse where she sings, “morning as they come down, their pretty heads are hurting, they’re awfully bad at learning.”
The fourth track, “all the good girls go to hell,” opens with quiet church bells, before Billie’s silky voice comes in with the refrain, “my Lucifer is lonely.” The American artist references Christianity through Saint Peter and warps the symbolism by using female pronouns when she sings about God, “once the water starts the rise, and heaven’s out of sight, she’ll want the devil on her team.” The chorus is followed by the opening refrain, accompanied by a synthesized keyboard, creating a sound like an organ to create a haunted mansion vibe. With an upbeat rhythm underneath Billie’s tender voice, these siblings successfully create a naughty tone in “all the good girls go to hell.”
Billie confirmed that “wish u were gay” is about a romantic interest who didn’t have reciprocating feelings, leading her to wish there was an alternative reason, as she expressed in the song: “to give your lack of interest an explanation, don’t say i’m not your type just say i’m not your preferred sexual orientation.” This track is probably the most poetic of the entire album, using word play to count down, playing with a “12-step” program she suggests needing to process her hurt from this person in singing “is there a 12-step just for you?” Using “ate” in replacement of the number 8, “i ate alone at seven, you were six minutes away.” She does a similar thing in the opening verse, counting down from 6 through “six words you never understood,” “five words you’ll never say,” “four days has never felt so long…” and so on. An applause follows her last word, before becoming muffled, transitioning the album to the down tempo tune of the next track, “when the party’s over.”
“8” has been confirmed by Billie Eilish to be a previously teased, but unreleased track named “see-through.” A Ukulele playfully strums as a high-pitched voice sings, sounding like a young child could sing along, maybe an 8 year old. Billie’s soft hearted voice sings along with an innocent rhythm, standing out from the spookiness of the album.
We’ve all heard the infamous clicé of comparing a lover to an addiction, yet Billie’s referencing TLC’s popular show is fresh. Billie Eilish is able to break the pattern of the familiar contrast of a lover to an addiction, by doing something different and using audio samples from commonly addicting TV show, The Office. She sikes listeners out with her rhyming in the bridge, interrupting with “you could kiss my—asking about my motto.”
The darkness in “bury a friend” leads the abum into a more innocent, childish beat of “ilomilo,” a song likely named after the puzzle game with the goal to connect characters “ilo” and “milo.”
The album slows down with “listen before i go,” a song with lyrics surrounding the topic of suicide. Billie Eilish tells her lover to hurry up and tell her they love her before she’s gone. She sings “i’m sorry,” before the vocals fade out and sirens come in, hinting at her following through with it.
The gentle ballad of “i love you” is chilling, a gentle pluck of a guitar eases behind Billie’s vulnerable voice exposing helplessness. The build up of the chorus is an angelic extension of each note, “and nothing has to change today I didn’t mean to say I love you, I love you, and I don’t want to.” Listening begins to feel like an invasion of privacy on an intimate moment between the artists and their music.
The final track of the debut, “goodbye,” is like a final reprise, an epilogue. A brief one minute and 59 seconds, Billie sings lyrical staples from each song on teh album, working in reverse order from “i love you” to “bad guy.” This gives listeners one last taste of the project, leaving us with a ringing memory of each track.
WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is a powerfully inventive collection of music. Vocals from Billie Eilish matched with the production from her brother Finneas O’Connor create the emotionally turbulent experience of WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
Eilish posted the album on Spotify as well as a playlist dubbed the “Billie Eilish Experience,” featuring play videos for the album’s singles. Don’t let yourself miss out on the experience, listen to WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? now on all streaming platforms.
Written by Stephanie Regan