Happier Than Ever

Happier Than Ever

“It wasn't forced, it wasn't pressured, it wasn't scary,” Billie Eilish tells Apple Music of making Happier Than Ever. “It was nice.” Once again written and recorded entirely with her brother FINNEAS, Eilish’s second LP finds the 19-year-old singer-songwriter in a deeply reflective state, using the first year of the pandemic to process the many ways her life has changed and she’s evolved since so quickly becoming one of the world’s most famous and influential teenagers. “I feel like everything I've created before this, as much as I love it, was kind of a battle with myself,” she says. “I've actually talked to artists that are now going through the rise and what I've said to them is, ‘I know what it's like, but I also don't know what it's like for you.’ Because everybody goes through something completely different.” A noticeable departure from the genre-averse, slightly sinister edge of 2019’s WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, much of the production and arrangements here feel open and airy by comparison, inspired in large part by the placid mid-century pop and jazz of torch singer Julie London. And whether she’s sharing new perspective on age (“Getting Older”), sensuality (“Oxytocin”), or the absurdity of fame (“NDA”), there’s a sense of genuine freedom—if not peace—in Eilish’s singing, her voice able to change shape and size as she sees fit, an instrument under her control and no one else's. “I started to feel like a parody of myself, which is super weird,” she says. “I just tried to listen to myself and figure out what I actually liked versus what I thought I would have liked in the past. I had to really evaluate myself and be like, 'What the hell do I want with myself right now?'” It’s a sign of growth, most striking in the clear skies of “my future” and the emotional clarity of the album’s towering title cut, which starts as a gentle ballad and blossoms, quite naturally and unexpectedly, into a growing wave of distorted guitars and distant screams. Both sound like breakthroughs. “There was no thought of, ‘What's this going to be? What track is this?’” she says of the writing process. “We just started writing and we kept writing. Over time, it just literally created itself. It just happened. It was easy.”

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