Don't Smile at Me (left) and WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? (right). Courtesy of Interscope and Darkroom records.

By: Kitty Cheung, Staff Writer

Don’t Smile at Me (2017)

As Billie Eilish’s debut EP, Don’t Smile at Me offers a first glimpse into the artist’s twisted and dark storytelling. This alternative pop EP has impressively high-quality production considering that most of the tracks were produced at home by Eilish and her brother, Finneas O’Connell. It brings a whole new dimension to bedroom pop

“my boy” and “bellyache” stand out as catchy and upbeat jams with a cynical tone, whereas “idontwannabeyouanymore” vocalizes Eilish’s mental health conflicts in a sorrowful and soulful manner. Listening to this EP, it is clearly coming from a younger Eilish, an artist whose work is constantly changing, and, in my opinion, only getting better.

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019)

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is Eilish’s heavily anticipated debut album. This body of music transitions between upbeat bops and more serious, slow-paced melodies. If you want a high-energy, danceable song, I would recommend “Bad Guy” or “you should see me in a crown.” With nods to modern trap, hip-hop, and electropop, jamming to these tunes will make you feel gloriously badass. 

Meanwhile, softer and more serious tracks such as “xanny” and “listen before i go” are more suitable for contemplative listening sessions. “xanny” showcases Eilish’s self-awareness in toxic friend groups and criticism of peer pressure, while “listen before i go” is written as a sombre suicide letter, which again talks openly and starkly about Eilish’s mental health struggles. The last track, “goodbye,” incorporates lyrics from all other songs in the album, drawing this body of work to a hauntingly beautiful close.

Verdict

To compare these two works, I would have to say that When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is a more heartfelt display of this artist’s creative maturity. This album shows both her and her brother’s growth in their lyricism and production abilities. 

An interesting aspect of both works is their quirky and creative incorporation of audio clips. For example, there’s the sound of matches being struck which forms the beat of Don’t Smile at Me’s “watch.” While this creative touch resonates well with the song’s narrative, the audio clips in When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? are much more thoughtfully incorporated. To illustrate, the sounds of children cheering in “wish you were gay” and the audio from the television show The Office found in “My Strange Addiction” result in more comical, ironic, and emotionally affecting significance. 

Overall, Don’t Smile at Me is still a fun and cynical teenage EP, but When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? demonstrates the growth of a young artist worth watching.