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“I don’t relate to you,” Billie Eilish announces on “Happier Than Ever,” the title track to her latest album. ” ‘Cause I’d never treat me this shitty/You made me hate this city!” Whew. Good thing if this song’s release coincided with your next therapy appointment — this one is going to take some unpacking.
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Eilish made “Happier Than Ever” the album’s next-to-last track, following gems like “Billie Bossa Nova” and “Oxytocin” (the former should absolutely be made into a genre of its own). It’s worth the wait. The sultry classical guitar opening is a perfect accompaniment to Eilish’s purring vocals, not to mention her recent blonde makeover. Happier Than Ever‘s cover art nods to a 1961 LP by torch singer Julie London, and the first two minutes of the title track fit that vibe to a T.
When the acoustic peters out shortly afterward, it’s almost as if Eilish is winking at us, indicating that she hasn’t even gotten started. An electric guitar enters, throbbing so rapidly it could churn butter, before her vocals reappear to deliver a cathartic pop-punk release that sounds like it’s been bottled in her for far too long. “Made all my moments your own/Just fuckin’ leave me alone!” If you ever needed proof that Olivia Rodrigo learned a thing or two from Eilish, look no further.
“Happier Than Ever” underlines the fact that Eilish’s follow-up to her smash debut is not nearly as cheery as its title suggests — in fact, the record’s themes include emotional turmoil, power abuse, and more. This is the sound of a superstar coming to terms with it all. “I’m going back to therapy,” she sings on “Male Fantasy.” Aren’t we all?
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