Album Review

Billie Eilish - HIT ME HARD AND SOFT

It’s her best yet, and an affecting sign of the times.

Billie Eilish - HIT ME HARD AND SOFT

Across the album’s satirical noir-pop cut ‘THE DINER’, Billie Eilish steps into the shoes of her stalker. “I saw you on the screens / I know we’re meant to be,” she sings over a warpy teen-horror-flick score, “I’m waiting on your block / But please don’t call the cops.” It’s unclear whether the song is based on fact or fiction – there have, unfortunately, been multiple real-life instances for the singer-songwriter to reference - but on the seventh track of third record ‘HIT ME HARD AND SOFT’, almost ten years since she started, the 22-year-old is making crystal clear the parasocial nature of her career. It begins earlier, on ballad opener ‘SKINNY’, where she hints at the toxic public commentary regarding her body: “People say I look happy / Just because I got skinny / But the old me is still me and maybe the real me,” she rebuffs. Submerged within the public eye, stalked, physically self scrutinised - with a love life narrated by tabloids and stans in equal measure - ‘HIT ME HARD AND SOFT’ sees Billie crash through her early twenties, confessing the day-to-day horrors of the consumed female celebrity through vivid lyrical confrontation. 

Queasily and meticulously produced once again by brother Finneas, the record’s edge not only lies in its poetic divulgence, but within - as is typical with the sibling duo - a resistance to the bitesize, plucky contemporary. Sonically, Billie’s abrasive pop rebels in new ways, lengthening tracks by the double, partitioning others and emboldening the intricacies of their collaboration tenfold. It’s cut with a rustier, more mature blade, moving from the leathery arena rock of ‘THE GREATEST’, to the sun-kissed, ribcage-rattling bass plucks of ‘CHIHIRO’ and ear-ringing electronica at its end, and finally to an alt-trap bridge followed by strings on finale ‘BLUE’. It darts between ideas that lie leagues apart yet remain consistent: see queer, vampiric big-pop hit ‘LUNCH’, via the cinematic, continental ‘L’AMOUR DE MA VIE’ and its fidgety hyperpop second-half, or the romantic blue skies of the Clairo-like ‘BIRDS OF A FEATHER’ that precede the weighty, plunging rustic guitar of ‘WILDFLOWER’, for example. It’s paced cinematically, with a lush diversity and vibrancy of sound not seen before from Billie. And, in making louder and trendier her monolithic artistry, ‘HIT ME HARD AND SOFT’ sees her hitting somehow even higher highs. It’s her best yet, and an affecting sign of the times. 

Tags: Billie Eilish, Reviews, Album Reviews

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