Breaking onto the scene at just age 14 with her 2016 viral hit “Ocean Eyes,” the now 17-year-old Billie Eilish immediately garnered comparisons to the likes of Lana Del Rey and Lorde with her knack for penning minimalist, sad pop tunes.
When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? sees Billie turning her inspirations into something distinct and all her own. On this album, her sound has developed well beyond her peers, with all of its songs being written by herself and her brother, music producer Finneas O’Connell.
On “wish you were gay” Billie’s vocals are exceptionally lush as she wistfully sings about an experience with unrequited love. The title is her (though initially confusing) way of trying to rationalize a boy’s lack of romantic interest in her. She wishes he were gay simply to spare her pride, she says.
On “when the party’s over” Billie bids farewell to an ill-fated romance. This track is the one that is probably the most comparable to Lorde’s style of raspy, yet delicate singing and themes of loneliness told through an after-party reflection. “Call me friend but keep me closer / And I’ll call you when the party’s over,” she says, referring to what appears to be a controlling relationship.
The song “bury a friend” combines Billie’s hushed vocals with a stomping beat that was immediately reminiscent of Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead.” Billie stated in an interview that the song was written from the perspective of a
Billie has a brilliantly understated singing style (e.g., “you should see me in a crown“) that works well when paired with the bass-heavy instrumentals on this album, but perhaps shines through most on the handful of heart-wrenching ballads she offers.When We Fall Asleep is an impressive debut that ultimately brings a distinct and personal sound to Billie’s name, in all of its anti-pop glory.