'WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?' : Billie Eilish - Album Review

On her debut studio LP, Billie Eilish is dark, macabre and experimental as she'll ever be. Over the razor-sharp course of 14 tracks, the young California prodigy cements herself as a true force in the music world with an album that is vastly industrial; leaning on ear-deafening bass lines, terrifying synth loops and deeply personal messages. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, in essence, is a glorious musical triumph, as well as a testament to Eilish's diverse melodic talent.



Two years ago, our ears were graced with angelic voice - one whose source was a silver-haired, ocean-eyed 15-year-old. In an industry where most artists are overly childish in their tendencies, Billie Eilish showed maturity far beyond her age. Accordingly, many listeners were instantly drawn to the unavoidably talented young artist.

In the Summer of 2017, Eilish gave fans and critics Don't Smile at Me, an experimentally driven debut studio LP whose intentions are unclear, but in fantastic fashion. While Eilish is visibly social and open, Don't Smile at Me left the young star's deepest, darkest insecurities out of the equation.

WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is the living (or quite frankly, dying) embodiment of those previously unspeakable topics/insecurities. Fittingly, Eilish's newest project is horrific from an instrumental standpoint - a bold decision that pays off incredibly well from start to finish on an album that will surely land itself on my "Top 10 Albums of 2019" list.

From the jump, Billie Eilish introduces the audience to the outlandish samples, distorted bass and glossy melodics that will cement themselves all the way through her second LP.

The albums intro track, "bad guy", is a hectic fever dream - a song that essentially establishes that WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is more Yeezus/Death Grips, and less Lana Del Rey/Ariana Grande. Billie's ability to splice awkward transitions into the gaps that exist on each side of the chorus is uncanny, as she frantically paints a mural of a relationship at it's breaking point. As fragmented as it may seem, "bad guy" is Billie Eilish's way of sucking the listener through a dark wormhole and into the sunken place that is her second studio album.

On "xanny", Billie takes a traditional "swing" tempo and drenches it in a horrifyingly distorted bass line. Perhaps no facet of "xanny" is as "beautiful" as the beats relation to its lyrics. On this track, Billie resists the Xanax that somehow seems to feel like her only escape - yet, through self-reflection, she comes to terms with having to let go of the dangerous pill. In bone-chilling fashion, Eilish delivers one of the most hauntingly real line-series i've heard in a very long time, finishing the song by saying:

What is it about them?

I must be missing something

They just keep doing nothing

Too intoxicated to be scared

*deep, shaky breath*

The outro of this song is so deep and personal, it doesn't seem real. "xanny" will undoubtably sit near the top for my favorite songs on WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?

"8", the album's eighth track (fittingly), is a ukulele anthem. It's delicate strings and sweeping bass loops are euphoric, as Billie pitches her voice up for a heartfelt, poem-like letter to a certain someone who doesn't look at her the same way she looks at them. "8" is ironic in nature - its instrumental is happy and soft, yet its message is sad and lonely.

I want to give a special shoutout to the hilarious samples on "my strange addiction". While the song is fairly simple in its delivery and melodic cadence, Billies use of snippets from The Office are nothing short of brilliant.

Ask me if I thought I'd ever hear Kevin Malone's voice on a Billie Eilish song.

The answer is, indubitably, no - but my god am I happy I did.

"ilomilo" is a rollercoaster to say the least. In two and a half minutes, the young artist layers a catalog of synths, 808's and claps. On this track, Billie sings about people in her life she's been searching for, as if to exclaim how empty parts of her life feel.

The project's tenth track, "listen before i go", is maybe the only song that would've fit on Billie's previous album - it's slow, melancholic message is heart-wrenching by all stretches of imagination, and the sweeping instrumental is all too familiar to songs like "ocean eyes" and "i don't want to be you anymore". If there's one track on WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? that is reminiscent of deep cuts from Lana Del Rey, it's this one. However, the end of the track is a scary proclamation, as Billie sings

call my friends and tell them that I love them

and i'll miss them...

but i'm not sorry.

She sings this final set of lines over the sound of an ambulance responding to scene.


Since "bury a friend" was a pre-album release, I wanted to wait to the end to talk about it. This, however, does not mean I don't enjoy this track - it's absolutely incredible.

In all my years of studying music, I've never heard a song that better emulates what a horror film would be in musical form.

The drills screeching, the glass shattering and the high pitched squeals all combine to create a song that is nothing short of fantastic - a song that truly defines the overarching sound/vibe of the album in its entirety.

On just her second official project, the seventeen-year-old genius delivers a magical compilation of deep, uneasy, macabre sounds and musical landscapes - all while effectively touching on the demons and emptiness that the seemingly troubled teen experiences on a daily basis.

A wise man (Kevin Malone) once said,

"Some might say tonight was a fluke. But, a fluke is one of the most common fish in the sea, so if you go fishing for a fluke, chances are you just might catch one."

While Kevin's wisdom is certainly true, Billie Eilish is not, in any conceivable fashion, a fluke.

Billie Eilish is a great white shark - a rare, unstoppable force in her musical ecosystem that is simultaneously as beautiful and captivating as she is feared by the industry.

So, like any sane person would do when faced with the ruler of the ocean, it would be wise to get out of Billie's way.

Get into your boat and watch admire it's beauty - there's a very good chance you won't see one like this again.

-Carter Ferryman-