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Happier Than Ever

by Billie Eilish

Released July 30, 2021 via Darkroom / Interscope Records

Reviewed August 11, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Happier Than Ever (63%), Oxytocin (37%), my future (33%)

When Billie Eilish broke out onto the scene, she was—on the surface—seen as some weird 16-year-old kid that whisper-sang and had music videos with spiders crawling out of her mouth. But from a lyrical standpoint, her biggest songs (“bellyache,” “bad guy,” “you should see me in a crown”) were playing a character. However, on Happier Than Ever, Eilish’s lyrics are a lot more personal, providing a view into her world; it not only shows growth and maturity since her last work, but Happier Than Ever seems like the approach that works best for her as a writer. Most of this album’s shortcomings derive from the production and its overall sound, with many of the tracks relying on minimalism and atmosphere that leave it feeling empty. The main qualities of this album’s highlights (most notably, the title track and “Oxytocin”) are experimentation and energy that the other songs lacked. While an improvement over WWAFAWDG, Happier Than Ever does leave a bit left to be desired, especially with how talented Billie is. – Alan (7.4/10)

Becoming as big a star as Billie Eilish in such a short amount of time has opened floodgates that have forced her to sink or swim. Thankfully, she’s kept afloat with her sophomore LP, Happier Than Ever. It instinctively feels like the next logical sonic step for her, covering more mature subject matter and expanding her timbral repertoire. Billie’s calm and composed response to criticism regarding her age, success, clothing style, and body not only represents her growth as an artist, but also growth in her character and essence. From a production standpoint, Billie and her brother gingerly tread in various directions. “NDA,” “Oxytocin,” and the bridge of “I Didn’t Change My Number” are examples of simultaneously guttural and subtle alt-pop/trip-hop fusions; the album’s last two tracks are guitar-heavy, while the middle adopts ambient instrumentation. This variety is intriguing, but the way the track list is ordered leaves these sounds and lyrical themes without any cohesive vision linking them. This problem is exacerbated by the duo’s particularly generic approach to their experimentation within these genres; the title track or “Billie Bossa Nova” are two examples. The album is also formatted more like a playlist than an organized, artistic statement. As a result, Happier Than Ever is a confusing listen, but it’s far from bad. – Cam (7/10)

Billie Eilish, the precocious pop sensation, releases her second album Happier Than Ever, though things sound as far from the title as can be. Desert-like production co-written with FINNEAS, Billie's brother, sets the scene for a sparse affair. Mellowed atmospheres lactate to life in an oozing fashion, brewed in syrupy sonics as thick and sultry as possible. Sonically personal, while still within reach, the record places the listener inside the psyche of Billie; her thoughts, feelings and perspectives are laid bare for inspection. Other artists have done this kind of thing to greater execution, but for someone on Billie's level—audience-wise, size and position in pop culture—this was a very necessary undertaking to add a twisted edge to her game. Overall, Happier Thank Ever is a much more tangible, personal, and introspective record compared to her first affair. What it lacks in moments it makes up for in sullen consistency and mood-setting malaise. – Peter (6.5/10)

DeVán: 7.5/10 | Jared: 7.5/10 | Daniel: 7.5/10 | Alan: 7.4/10 | Cam: 7/10

Pax: 7/10 | Victoria: 7/10 | Peter: 6.5/10 | Dominick: 6/10 | Hadley: 6/10

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