Review #397: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish

Karla Clifton
2 min readJun 6, 2023

#397: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish

This is one of the last albums I was briefly obsessed with before the pandemic. I was working a night shift at that point, and would often drive around listening to this album in the early morning hours, in the sun before most people were awake. That was three years ago. Everything is so different now.

The way I see it, this is (also) the first really significant Gen Z album, and doubles as a horror novella about nightmares, with its surreal music videos that easily went viral.

She middle school class clown in the dances through the sexy “bad guy.” She’s covered in mud and dragging wings in “all the good girls go to hell.” She’s a demon and medical experiment in “bury a friend.” And in the extremely beautiful “when the party’s over,” Billie drinks a black fluid and then immediately cries in out, in a way that looks like it might hurt. I’m at the age where looking at Billie Eilish act out her worst nightmares really makes me feel complicit in something.

Not all of them are hellish nightmare bangers. It took me a little while for me to decide what to make of Eilish’s voice, but looking back it’s clear she’s an indie vocal prodigy. She croons her way through quiet ones: blue-eyed soul ballad “xanny,” and uke baby voice showcase “8”. She’s biting and funny, and it’s her comedy routines and pop culture references (see “wish you were gay” and “my strange addiction”) that prove that she grew up in L.A.

Props must also be given to her brother Finneas, who produced this record out of his childhood home. Finneas can club bang, video game sample, and catch Billie in the act of removing her Invisalign. (See “you should see me in a crown,” “ilomilo,” and “!!!!!!!”.)

The most charming conceptual quirk: the last three songs, which all say goodbye to you: “listen before i go,” “i love you,” “goodbye.”

Conclusion: Billie Eilish is Alanis mixed with NIN maybe mixed with half of Pink Floyd.

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