The Listener

Hugely unmemorable: Billie Eilish's Happier Than Ever reviewed

14 August 2021

9:00 AM

14 August 2021

9:00 AM

Grade: C+

Time to get the razor out again — Billie’s back. The slurred and affected can’t-be-arsed-to-get-out-of-bed vocals. The relentless, catatonic introspection, self-pity and boilerplate psychological insights. The queen of sadgurls has a new album — and yes, of course, the title is the closest Billie has ever come to making a joke. Of course she’s not happy — that would be her schtick sold down the river. If Billie ever professed herself really happy her fans would quickly go elsewhere to slake their misery jones.

Eilish has talent, along with the over-weening narcissism that comes with affording your every feeling a sense of great, dramatic import. But it is spread very thin here. There are too many boring monotone monologues set to boring minimalist one-note electronics. Where there is melody it too often drifts away into nothingness: this is a hugely unmemorable album. She tries — fashionably enough — bossa nova but buggers it up, having neither the knack nor the tune. There are a few standouts — the title track, and ‘My Future’, the kind of downbeat torch song that made her first album so arresting, and the single ‘Therefore I Am’, a cute piece of electropop.

Otherwise we are simply enjoined to applaud her inexhaustible self-analysis. One review, by an idiot, commended Billie’s generation for their manifest self-obsession. Me, I think they need to get a grip before reality flaps its big black wings over their heads. ‘Everybody Dies’ laments Billie. Really? What a bummer.

I listened to this with my 15-year-old daughter, at whom this product is aimed. Halfway through she yawned and said: ‘She’s just a slightly more depressed Clairo.’ Harsh, harsh.

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