At the time, 17-year-old Billie Eilish became one of the most talked about pop stars of 2019. Her Don’t Smile At Me EP from 2017 was a slow build that continued to grow then exploded with the release of her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and that album’s hit single “Bad Guy”. After that, everyone wanted to hear more of the music that her and her brother Finneas were creating in their parents’ house. Instead of another cookie cutter singer, Eilish’s distinct voice when mixed with pop meets goth meets R&B meets dance music had a little something for everyone. Since then, Eilish has been on all sorts of shows, videos, tabloids, etc and those experiences all feed into her sophomore album, Happier Than Ever.
First track “Getting Older” rides a minimal synth beat which Eilish mumbles over becoming more clear in the chorus, the last line being the most vulnerable before it cuts to the head nodding drumbeat of “I Didn’t Change My Number”. Eilish unleashes the line, “I didn’t change my number/I only changed who I reply to”. “Oxytocin” is a dark electronic throb with an echoey chorus that treats sex as a drug before the Underworld like lyrics of “GOLDWING” catches Eilish telling us multiple times to “keep your head down”.
Several of the singles are reserved for the second half of the album including the fifth single “NDA” that flexes like the hardest rapper, making a lover sign a non-disclosure agreement before leaving. Acoustic guitar appears more frequently on “Your Power” and the title track before it switches to a distorted electric guitar that gets louder as it goes on.
Where the album drags is on several of the middle tracks including the spoken word “Not My Responsibility”. At sixteen tracks, the same themes pop up time and again (troubles with fame, love interests, the media) but doesn’t add anything new. At times it can be like listening to a friend talk for 56 straight minutes while you tune in and out. Still, the first several tracks are electric and the last few reach another emotional level. On her sophomore album, the title Happier Than Ever may be tongue in cheek but the teenage sarcasm is one worth listening to.