Billie Eilish shows what she’s made for

Billie Eilish shows what she’s made for
Billie Eilish shows what she’s made for

It seems too early to draw a bright pink line on the recording career of Billie Eilish, but do we really have a choice? His ballad from the soundtrack Barbie Last year’s “What Was I Made For?” was so delicately inventive and deeply existential that it automatically divided her songbook into a before and after. So we delve into post-pink with Hit Me Hard and Soft, a new album in which Eilish sings in exponentially more exquisite detail, making her melodized whispers work like steamrollers, roller coasters, jackhammers, bombs exploding in mid-air. Really hard and soft.

At first glance, this is a breakup album about separating from the people you love, even from who you used to be. Eilish sets the framework right away with “Skinny,” soaking up her soul-crushing “Barbie” tone, explaining how “21 took a lifetime.” If your reflex is to roll your eyes at the thought of a 22-year-old feeling old, try a little harder to remember how difficult those early seasons of adulthood are, when you begin to understand that your past is irretrievable. . As if that were not enough, loneliness sounds aggravated by faceless cruelty of this digital world in which he was born: “The Internet is hungry for the evilest kind of fun and someone has to feed it.”

Billie Eilish divides her songbook into before and after with “What Was I Made For?” (William Drumm)

By arranging those soft syllables into a descending melody, it sounds like a puff of smoke falling down the stairs. Somehow, it seems like THE truth. His singing is so thoughtful, so precise, so emotionally marked… And yet, in a way that almost always requires a retreat. In a fantastically subtle passage from “Chihiro,” Eilish locates more than three dozen notes in four words: Did you take my love from me? – as if identifying flower petals scattered in the breeze. His brother, producer and songwriting partner, Finneasunderlines the euphemism, letting a bass line disk shakes on its own while the battery makes “pitter-pat” on the precipice of total absence.

Is “Chihiro” a disco song or a lullaby? And “Skinny” is bossa nova or neo-soul? Genre mixing is key on this album, but it’s less like two brothers making fruit smoothies and more like allowing their dream states to overlap. Other songs on “Hit Me Hard and Soft” go through their stylistic mutations in a more linear way. “The Greatest” begins in a coffee shop and then transforms into a Britpop festival at Walt Disney World. “L’Amour de Ma Vie” starts in the cabaret and then goes emo-Nintendo. It’s tempting to look for themes of transformation and evolution in the twists and turns, but Eilish’s voice holds the center. As a chaotic world makes its violent changes, she delves deeper, a tacit refutation of the chameleonic narratives of pop progress established by The Beatles, David Bowie, Prince, Madonna. Anyway.

Finneas (left) and Billie Eilish sing “What Was I Made For?” from the movie “Barbie” during the 2024 Oscars, at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles

However, Eilish is not monolithically sad. There’s an almost shocking joy to “Lunch,” with her reciting a dirty, battered inner monologue before finally admitting: “She is the lighthouse, I am the deer.”. Fantastic. And then there is “The Diner.” With Finneas making her synths bend like mirrors, it’s hard to tell if she’s joking about the stalker fantasy she’s describing. The song ends in literal whispers, as she mocks remembering a victim’s phone number. In any case, (310)-807-3956 now joins 867-5309 and (281)-330-8004 as the most famous digits of the Yellow Pages of pop music.

And although those two cuts seem somewhat atypical, they still point to the fundamental question of this album: Why don’t you love me? Eilish dives headfirst into it during “The Greatest,” taking the emphasis off the “you” from that question and putting it entirely on the “I.” The end of the mega chorus Oasis in Orlando is the following: “Hey, I’m the biggest. God, I hate him. All my love and patience, unappreciated.” She doesn’t sound like a solipsist, or an egomaniac, or a brat. As always, she only listens to that voice. She will take you back to the song title.

Source: The Washington Post

[Fotos: Petros Studio; William Drumm; AP Foto/Chris Pizzello]

 
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