Billie Eilish’s sophomore album Happier Than Ever is a rare case of improvement after a critically acclaimed debut. The album has a lot to offer and a surprise that blew me away. It’s not without its flaws but damn is a great album.
I was apprehensive about the singles that came out of this album would sound within the album as a whole. For example, the single Therefore I Am and My Future are so sonically different. When I listened to them as part of the album however this eliminated this apprehension. Somehow the Billie and her brother Finneas just tied it all together. My Future just didn’t grip me as a single but hearing it as part of the album really tied it all together.
The album’s title is of course an ironic title. Darkness is Billie’s entire brand, yes, but this title definitely comes from a place where she was in some very intense spotlight from a young age. She’s the face of her generation and she’s brought creepy fans, stalkers and paparazzi along the way.
Finneas shines as the album’s sole producer. I’m very satisfied that the label stepped back and let Finneas just work. He works so well with Billie and you can tell. They have such good chemistry in the studio and he knows what her vocal register is and what melodies will complement it. Finneas and Billie’s co-exist in this album and I’m glad this wasn’t written by several producers.
Despite some new sounds, you can still tell it’s Billie. You know it’s the quiet screams that explode into a fireball when you reach the title of the track in the song.
One thing I wasn’t happy about is the song arrangement. Why was Happier Than Ever not the closer? Male Fantasy is the weakest song on here. It’s just a needlessly stitched 3 minutes on to the end after the bombastic rock soaked finale. Then we dropped down to this crappy abyss with Male Fantasy.
The shimmering allure of the production glints throughout the album. Hypnotic melodies, electronic drip and industrial rhythms are things that will emerge over and over again with every listen.
At over 56 minutes I don’t think this album overstays its welcome. While the ending isn’t great, I’m willing to overlook it because that surprise rock ending at the end of Happier Than Ever makes me so hungry for Billie to make a rock album!
Happier Than Ever is a rare case of improvement over a massively successful debut. Instead of caving under the pressure she made a diamond.