When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Eigenschreibweise: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?) ist das Debütalbum der US-amerikanischen Sängerin Billie Eilish. Es wurde am 29. März 2019 über das Label Interscope Records veröffentlicht.
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Billie Eilish is young enough to make millennials feel old. At 17, she has had two-and-a-half years of being hailed as the next big thing, notching up millions of streams across YouTube and SoundCloud. Her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, confirms what most teenagers already know: Eilish is something special, a pop avatar of a Generation Z mood of sensitive disaffection.
Her oeuvre absorbs genres with a blithe disregard for boundaries, operating between the distant poles of goth inflected synth pop and jazzy showtunes. Hints of hip-hop, R’n’B and traditional singer-songwriter angst are sinuously laced through beautifully crafted songs, disparate elements united by an understated digital production presumably aimed at mobile consumption rather than bigger speakers. It sounds modern and old fashioned at the same time, infused with an adolescant self-absorption that is at once depressive, funny and wise beyond its years.
The Californian prodigy hails from a family of actors and musicians. Eilish’s closest collaborator, co-writer and producer is her elder brother, Finneas O’Connell, who had a recurring role in the TV series Glee and was involved in the LA band scene. At 21, he may only be four years her senior but boasts multi-instrumental skills and has clearly been a guiding hand behind Eilish’s apparently preternatural development, composing his sister’s 2016 viral debut, Ocean Eyes.
Eilish’s personality, though, is pushed to the fore, with a soft vocal style that can shift from coquettish to threatening, playfully ironic to emotionally sincere in a breath. Her close-to-the-mic singing is enhanced by layers of ethereal harmonies without swamping a sense of intimacy.
Given how up-to-the-minute it all sounds, many tracks include chord progressions and structure that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Broadway musical – albeit you would probably have older members of the audience heckling Eilish to “sing up!”
What really keeps Eilish contemporary is her lyrical sensibility, peppering tell-all tales with references to prescription drugs (Xanny) and sexual fluidity (Wish You Were Gay). All the Good Girls go to Hell dabbles in the political by positing a deity rejecting mankind, with Eilish singing the role of “God herself”: “Your cover-up is caving in / Man is such a fool, why are we saving him? / Poisoning themselves now/ Begging for our help, wow / Hills burn in California / My time to ignore ya / Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.”
It is smart stuff, laced with a vein of laugh-or-you’d-cry humour. Some of the skittishness risks becoming irritating, and parents may worry about the depressive singer’s constant references to death, which go as far as embracing suicide on the tremulously touching Listen Before I Go. But even the underlying navel-gazing sadness is redeemed by Eilish’s burning sense of purpose. There is confidence in her own uniqueness; Eilish is a genuine pop stylist.
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