Billie Eilish’s distinctive, ominous artistry shines through her debut album, don’t smile at me. In this album, Billie conquers a task that seems impossible in this day and age: to make songs about the consequences of love without being cliche. Instead, Billie lets her sweet, smooth vibrato lead her through melodies with sinister beats that are wonderfully produced and oozes her originality. Each song has a different way of portraying her style throughout the album, supporting her music’s message immensely.
Though a teenager, Billie’s lyrics seem as if they come from decades of experience. Along with her twenty-one-year-old brother Finneas O’Connell, Billie created lyrics that are not afraid to mingle with unwanted thoughts about relationships, in a kind of youthful but very wise way. In “myboy”, Billie croons, “My boy’s an ugly crier, but he’s such a pretty liar, and by that I mean he said he’d change”, Exploring the idea that sometimes, when you want a relationship to work, things don’t go as planned. Her varying lyrics allow her to elaborate on each situation that is woven into each of her songs with detail. She also touches on societal problems. She sang about how society sees women and their bodies, singing, “If teardrops could be bottled, there’d be swimming pools filled by models told a tight dress is what makes you a whore.” Her and her brother have created a fresh way to address what they feel needs to be addressed, in ways other lyricists much more experienced than the duo cannot describe.
The way that don’t smile at me is produced further enforces Billie’s vision. It is evident that there are R&B and hip hop influences to contribute to her electropop. What is to love about each song on the album is that they each have a different sound, but are collectively cohesive. Her repetition avoidance is what makes each song so easily lovable in their own ways. Billie knows how to go from a wistful, R&B-esque song, like “idontwannabeyouanymore”, straight into a dark, yet more upbeat song, like “myboy”, with a smooth transition. One of the best starts of a song on the album is “watch”. If you listen to the album in order, you will hear a pause at the end of the song “myboy”. The song immediately picks up to a static-y noise that begins the bopping sad love song “watch”. At first, you don’t notice that it is the start of the song, because the transition was so fluid that you would think it was the end of the song before. It is the small details of the careful production of this album that makes it that much more dazzling.
Billie’s message, lyrics, and production of don’t smile at me delivers what other rising teen pop star albums can’t: a raw insight into teenage reality. It seems quite insane to compare Billie and her sound to other teens in the industry, because everyone else is so easy to categorize. Billie herself is her own category, and rightfully so. She recognizes that life’s not all either just sunshine and smiles or just sadness and sorrow; there are so many more dimensions to human emotion. Billie showcases these dimensions, along with her vibrant musical dimensions, and has created an album worthy of listening to over and over and over again. This album will make you want to sway, snap, and jump up and down, because of its abundance of hard-hitting songs, sometimes emotional sometimes rebellious fun. It is clear that at sixteen years old, Billie has the sagacity and individuality to remain one of the coolest, most honest pop stars in the industry, and dont smile at me has set that in stone.