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The Earliest Bird: 7-30-21 – 8-5-21 Top Recorded Release, Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” Reviewed


In 2019, Billie Eilish became not the voice of her generation but an iteration later, she became the voice of tween girls who were disinterested at  best, frightened more likely, of the male gaze, and on her quiet and tremulous When We All Fall Asleep, Where We Do, she took masculine power and kept it for herself. In baggy hip hop clothing, multi colored hair, she was the anti-Britney Spears circa “… Baby One More Time”… dressed in soft porn, pedi attracting school girl uniform, and Billie sneering indifference to the teen porn culture that surrounds her, on the taking the power back “Bad Guy”. Billie’s songs were mostly an equi-distance between the monster under the bed, on top of the bed, and above the bed, a vision of extreme beauty hidden in a sack bag to embrace and keep away from her post-pubescent sexuality. This half sexuality, this kissy kissy, is a nonthreatening visage of teen life. Yes, nonthreatening, because “Wish You Were Gay” is deadly in ways that the real death of “Bury A Friend” isn’t. Girls can deal with life as a member of a posse with greater ease than they can deal with male desire and Billie gets this because she is this. Her messages are all good guys just say no gussied up. The absolutely opposite of the way she was perceived by the greater public, Billie was the safe zone.

Two years later, her second album, also produced by her brother Finneas, Happier Than Ever, is a strong collection of songs about a young adult thrown into turmoil by fame and fortune. It puts a headlight on Billie and the price of, not love, but fame. “NDA” is as sad a song as you’ll get in a world where her tween fans can’t follow, the sadness and also the reality of romances where obsolescence is part of the equation, a truth she can’t escape from because she has no make lovers sign non-disclosure pacts. “NDA” is an electronic bummer and also the most rap like subject in the world.

Happier is filled with moments like this, songs where Billie writes as though she has the most interesting “Dear Diary” in the world though from her platinum blonde 2021 visage to her downbeat songs of not getting trodden on, they are songs that are cut off from us. But they can be very good songs, the first four tracks are all first rate and “Oxycotin,” the fifth song, boasts “I’d like to do things God wouldn’t approve of if She saw us,” Oxycotin” is the hormone women secrete during sex. The song is a dirgey anti-dirge, with a kicker “I wanna do bad things to you”.

The album is like that, it isn’t her Nevermind, but it might be her In Utero, a sound of a generation abdicating under the weight that sent gymnast Simone Biles into a tailspin against expectations. Does Billie also have the twisties? Only her fanbase can tell us, but it is a good album.

Grade: B+


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