It never ceases to amaze me just how much older generations love to hate millennials and just how much millennials continue to conquer regardless of constraints. Not only are teenage artists killing it all across the globe, they are in many ways displaying wisdom, talent and know-how that stretches far beyond the ability of their elders. Yet, teenagers still have a sense of vulnerability and remain relatively un-jaded by the darkness of the world. That sense of innocence combined with wisdom beyond their years make for some of the most interesting listening experiences possible, and none are more interesting than BILLIE EILISH.
When Billie Eilish, 15, nonchalantly erupted onto the scene earlier this year with 'Bellyache', it seemed that she was quite literally too cool for school. Over an acoustic guitar that is drenched in flair and colour that then warps into a dark, convulsive beat, Eilish assumes the identity of a murderer and the moment that person realises the futility of their callousness. This roleplay is bleak and grim, a place that few artists are willing to go. Eilish, however, is tackling the task with guns blazing and her debut EP Don't Smile At Me is just as fierce.
From the opening moments of 'Copycat', Billie Eilish is out to set one thing straight - she's not one to be fucked with. The entire 8-track EP is dark and self-assured, but she's letting it be known most on the opening number. "You got your finger on the trigger, but your trigger finger's mine," she taunts the copycat, implying that their autonomy is only effective at Eilish's will. It's a track that is both menacing and loveable - she's displaying braggadocio that society loves to oppress in teenage girls.
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As Billie Eilish melts the poeticism of Lorde with the tragic self-awareness of Lana Del Rey, we learn that with empowerment inevitably comes vulnerability. However, it's Eilish's unapologetic wearing of her flaws like a crown that is so endearing. In 'idontwannabeyouanymore', Eilish makes a brave archival of her psychosis. She feels she's crumbling under bullshit restrictions that society instills upon her - 'Told a tight dress is what makes you a whore' - and delves in uncertainty when she questions, "Was I made from a broken mold?" On 'Watch', she combines her self-assuredness with her vulnerability in the form of wondering why a lover doesn't think she's good enough. She's documenting her internal tug-o-war that an unrequited love has sparked inside of her without being able to extinguish the flames.
Often, artists need to truly experience before they can create songs of substance. But, with only 15 years behind her, you'd swear Billie Eilish has lived a lifetime. Her intelligence, fearlessness and unwavering confidence has made for one of the most interesting EPs of 2017 in Don't Smile At Me. She's your favourite popstar's twisted sister, whose head-first dive into ominous narrative could only be pulled off with a true sense of wonder. Billie Eilish is on track to change the face of pop music, and you'd be best to keep up because she is taking no prisoners.
Don't Smile At Me is out now. Listen/buy here.
Words by JACKSON LANGFORD