The thing about FINNEAS’ full-length debut is that it doesn’t feel like a debut at all: As longtime producer and co-writer to his sister, Billie Eilish, he’s had a hand in shaping some of the most popular and influential music of the new century—and winning, in the space of a few years, more Grammys than he could hold at one time. But few producers have successfully made the leap to solo careers—Kanye and Pharrell among them—and fewer still have done it after such a seismic first impression. Marking the first time we’ve really heard the LA native entirely on his own, singing his own songs, Optimist functions as a kind of formal reintroduction. “It’s very hard to prioritize your own music, because it's more excusable to let yourself down than to let other artists down,” he tells Apple Music. “The biggest challenge in making an album for myself is having to actually always look inward and be like, ‘Is this how I want it to sound?’ I'm not trying to please anybody with it except myself.” It opens with the sound of applause and “A Concert Six Months From Now,” a straight-ahead strummer that erupts—briefly, like a controlled explosion—into a lovesick rock anthem that doubles as a tribute to the magic of an evening spent at the Hollywood Bowl. On “The 90s,” he sends a simple but elegant synth-pop tune into a series of festival-ready spasms, suggesting that, in longing for the now distant past (or fretting over a future apocalypse), we’re watching the present pass us by. Both songs have a sense of scale and dramatic timing that checks out for any artist who’s already helped engineer a massive mainstream response or started branching out into scoring films. But like much of Optimist—and Eilish’s Happier Than Ever, which he finished work on months earlier—they’re also ballads at heart, with a natural emphasis on intimacy and quiet. About what you’d expect from a singer-songwriter working in lockdown. “When I listen back to it now,” he says, “I was writing a very introspective album. And I think that’s what a year of sitting at home and thinking will do to you.” He can be angry (“The Kids Are All Dying”) and self-aware (“Happy Now?”), contemplative (“Peaches Etude”) and scared (“Love Is Pain”), capable of channeling the melodic smarts of Chris Martin (“What They’ll Say About Us”) and the ambient dread of Trent Reznor (“Around My Neck”) in the span of a few minutes. Above all, he offers a deep appreciation for living right now, free from the news or spiraling social media feeds. “I think, sometimes, when stuff is finished and sits on a shelf for a while, you look up at it and you’re like, ‘I don’t know how well that’s aging,’” he says of his work. “When I listen, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, this is how I was feeling and this is how I’ve felt my whole life about certain things.’ I think this album is honest enough that it doesn’t really matter how it ages because it’s how I feel.”

Other Versions

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada