Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” is a Great Song, OK Album
Final score: 7.2 / 10
Ahlgrim: As a music critic, I know that I’m supposed to judge an album holistically. But all I have is my truth, and right now my love for the title song has replaced all other impressions.
As of this writing, I have listened to “Happier Than Ever” (the album) once. I have listened to “Happier Than Ever” (the song) 18 times. I feel like it’s the moon and my brain is the sun and there’s a solar eclipse and I can’t stop it.
So is the fun and challenge of a first-listen review: it demands immediate honesty, which perhaps requires oversimplification. I can’t wait to see how the rest of these songs grow over time, like “Lost Cause” and “Your Power”. I can already say that “Oxytocin” and “Halley’s Comet” will occupy prominent places on my Spotify Wrapped in December.
But I also believe that real great albums reward immediate honesty. They tend to demand your attention from the jump, even if you can’t yet explain why you like them. You just know you will.
For me, Eilish’s second effort lacks that cohesive, alluring mystique – even though it’s objectively good. Writing a celebrity album that isn’t instantly alienating is a feat in itself.
“Happier Than Ever” works best when Eilish is able to infuse untouchable popstar experiences with palpable emotion – when her voice breaks after sleepless days, for example, or she laughs at the cheesy dialogue. porn. Eilish’s voice is still beautiful, but the album’s most engaging moments come when she allows herself to be looser, more tender. The title track is so juicy because Eilish is completely putting aside her cool girl exterior and everything is fine. I only wish she had done this more.
These are the moments that I will cherish and reap for my favorite playlists, even if I end up letting the rest of the tracklist fade.
Larocca: “Happier Than Ever” promises to deliver real vulnerability, but never quite succeeds.
Far too often, Eilish tells you that she’s upset or has a trauma to unpack, never showing what those experiences are like. It’s frustrating, considering that the best songs (“Happier Than Ever”, “Oxytocin”, “Halley’s Comet”) are the ones where she gives in to the emotion she is trying to express (rage, excitement, love) .
That’s not to say the rest of the album is bad – there’s nothing about “Happier Than Ever” that is really offensive to my ears. But without tactile imagery or vocal variety, songs like “NDA” and “Everybody Dies” only contribute to neutrality.
Sadly, about half of this album is made up of innocuous moments, which makes for a rather bland listening experience. It’s disappointing, because on the same songlist Eilish has proven that she can wield her power to enchant listeners and start a fire inside.
I left this album feeling good. But I wanted to come away happier than ever – or sadder than ever, or crazier than ever. I wish Eilish had given us more to feel.
To listen :
“Billie Bossa Nova”
“So I am”
“Happier than ever”
“To get old”
“I haven’t changed my number”
“It is not my responsibility”
“Everyone is dying”
* Album’s final score based on songs by category (1 point for “Worth Listening”, 0.5 for “Background Music”, 0.5 for “Shared Decision”, 0 for “Skip” to the press ”).