A young and budding enthusiastic writer, and music lover with an eye for detail
Ever since her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? hit the radio waves, Billie Eilish’s world has changed drastically. While many might claim it changed for the better, it is quite a daunting task handling all that comes with fame and stardom at the age of 18. Those experiences are what Billie shares with her fans all over the world on her sophomore album, Happier Than Ever. She reflects on this on the track “Getting Older” as she softly croons “I’ve had some trauma, did things I didn’t wanna, was too afraid to tell ya, but now I think it’s time”.
Coming off from one of the most successful albums of the decade, which garnered billions of streams on music streaming services and numerous Grammy wins, I always wondered what the pressure was like for Billie to recreate that amount of success on her Happier Than Ever. However, in an interview, she tells Apple Music that “it wasn’t pressured, it wasn’t scary. It was nice”—and it certainly felt like it was nice, as she seemed like she was thoroughly enjoying herself throughout the entirety of the fifty-six minutes which the album spanned. Departing from the sinister theme which serenaded her debut album, Billie finds herself exploring '60s mid-century pop and jazz themes on this album, and she effortlessly kills it.
One thing that sets Happier than Ever apart from its predecessor is its maturity and cohesiveness. It is certainly more well-structured than her previous project, which is evidence of her growth as an artist. The album sounds more mature, which is probably due to it being a personal record. Her singing is glorious all throughout, and the highlight of that for me is the second half of the title track, which sees Billie unlock a more daring vocal range—one which every fan would expect more of in her subsequent projects. The concept of the album was well thought out, and no track seems incredulously out of place.
"Happier Than Ever" Official Music Video
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One major highlight of the album is the immaculate songwriting that pervades the project. Billie and her brother Finneas, who was involved in the writing and production, pulled off something spectacular with the songwriting on every track. The self-reflection Billie aims to achieve with the album is passed across to the listener with poignant, powerful, clear, and thought-provoking lyrics. Hell, there are some double entendres littered across the album and due to its nature, a lot of people such as myself relate with her lyrics. “Not My Responsibility” is one track that greatly exemplifies brilliant writing—a dirge that succinctly expresses Billie’s stance about the comments of people on her body and style of dressing.
The production, which was tailored to suit Billie’s calm and soothing voice, is nothing short of amazing. It was unique and distinct in its way, which is something that sets Billie apart from her peers. The production also oozes creativity, and an example of that is the use of dog growls at the beginning of “I Didn’t Change My Number”, which is something one can only expect from a Billie Eilish album. Finneas has to be credited for his exceptional work in mixing the album for headphone use, as it gives the sound more life and clarity. The production choices are excellent all throughout, although it could have done with more upbeat tempos on certain tracks.
Happier Than Ever has that personal feel, which is something fans of Billie would be proud of as it lets them into her thought process and her opinions on certain issues. Thematically, the album is an all-rounder as its covers various themes such as love, toxic relationships, abuse of power, body shaming, death, etc. “Halley’s Comet” might be the most intimate love song Billie has ever made, as its storyline is fascinating and brilliantly written. “Everyone Dies” echoes her thoughts on the inevitability of death calmly and pacifies her listener terrified by the idea that “it’s okay to cry” as they are not the only ones feeling that way. “Overheated” is a song that advocates self-love and it is one of my favourites off the album, with the lines “can’t be defeated /can’t be deleted / can’t be repeated” always hitting hard for me.
Happier Than Ever ticks all boxes of a great album, and for me, it is right up there as her best project. Her growth as a person and as an artist is glaring, and this album also indicates that she can foray into other genres. Consisting of sixteen songs, it is one hell of an emotional roller-coaster that I cannot seem to get enough of.
Essential Tracks: “Happier Than Ever”, “Getting Older”, and “Lost Cause”.
You can purchase the album on Amazon by clicking here—Happier Than Ever.
© 2021 Fawaz Akintunde