Review: Marina – FEAR

You can read our review of the first half of LOVE + FEAR here.

We’ve gotten the first half of Marina’s album LOVE + FEAR, which she released on April 4th. FEAR is the second half, and it’s finally here. A whole 16 tracks from Marina Diamandis to savor. She released snippets of “Life Is Strange”, ”Soft to be Strong” and “No More Suckers” last week via her Instagram, but we received no official singles from the FEAR portion.

You can buy or stream LOVE + FEAR on Apple Music.

With those statistics out of the way, let’s get into FEAR. We all went into LOVE knowing pretty much what to expect. We had four singles and, arguably, a lot more commentary from Marina herself regarding the album. Up until a few days ago, we had no reference point for what angle FEAR would come from, other than a title and a tracklist. I love both LOVE and FEAR pretty equally so far, but I think FEAR is the more surprising of the two.

When you listen to LOVE, it’s immediately clear what we’re walking into. That seemed to be the case with FEAR, too, judging by the first track “Believe in Love”. It sounds exactly like a song titled “Believe in Love” should sound right up until the bridge, which is where I also feel some of the title inspiration came from. She sings, “Shouldn’t take fear so seriously” – a total turnaround from what I assumed the album would be thematically. We celebrated love on LOVE, but we’re celebrating a lack of fear on FEAR.

I talked a bit in my first review about how relatable Marina’s lyricism is and FEAR is no different. We should be able to celebrate overcoming fear and doubt, and Marina has given us art that allows us to indulge in that. She writes a lot about society and she acknowledges that it’s fine to be fearful, as long as we don’t set up shop in that state of mind. I feel like that’s why she released LOVE alongside FEAR. She could’ve very easily released only one of the two and called it a day, but she wanted to draw that parallel. In this way, she’s like no other pop artist around.

If we’re keeping with the recent music news, we’ve got the new Taylor Swift song that’s literally called “ME!” and it’s about loving yourself and all that jazz. That’s all fine and good, and I’m not trying to dunk on T-Swift, but as far as modern pop goes, I feel like Marina is one of the only artists who intentionally turns the microscope back onto the world around us. She knows that individuals all have a part to play in making the world turn, and she’s not shy about reminding her listeners of that.

Stand out tracks for me are definitely “Karma” for it’s fun vibe (as well as her trademark ‘talk while you sing’ deal), “Emotional Machine” for the lyrical rawness and (again!) relatability, and “Soft to Be Strong” because of how it ends the album so poignantly. As you all know I pay close attention to how an album flows, and the transition from the end of “Soft to Be Strong” back into “Handmade Heaven” is *chef’s kiss*.

So suffice it to say, I love Marina’s new album in its entirety. The production value perfectly encapsulates what Marina has done before but brings a new, refreshed spin on it. She’s only grown stronger lyrically and I’m so glad she’s back with us. LOVE + FEAR is another beautiful testament to Marina Diamandis’ genius.

4.5/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Review: The Damned Things – High Crimes

Count me as one of the (many? few?) that found great enjoyment in The Damned Thing’s 2010 debut, Ironiclast. That album served as both the most interesting project released during the late aughts Fall Out Boy hiatus and an album that tugged at my hard rock heartstrings, even though some found it (incorrectly) to be too generic. In many ways, it was ahead of its time, laying a foundation for other punk and metalcore acts to explore more accessible sounds in recent years.

You can buy or stream High Crimes on Apple Music.

Nevertheless, as time passed, it began to feel more and more like a fleeting moment that never found its foothold. The band’s members (Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley, Anthrax’s Scott Ian, and Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley) all have successful careers and plenty to do aside from scratching a side project itch that a select group of fans quietly clamor for. But here we are nine years later with another album on our hands. And let me tell you, High Crimes is unbelievably good, one-upping its predecessor in almost every way.

The easiest place to find fault in Ironiclast was in its safety. While full of melody and fun, radio rock guitar riffs, the album goes by in a breeze, never really changing pace or taking chances. High Crimes truly feels like the band, now employing Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano on bass, just said, “Fuck it. Let’s have some fun.”

Opening track and first single “Cells” capitalizes on the potential a band with this much star power possesses. It’s raw, wild and manic throughout, feeling from its opening moments las if it’s channeling In Utero’s spirit. The track’s best moment comes near the end as Buckley shouts, “Guitar!” just in time for a sick guitar solo. It’s a moment so carefree and silly that it allows you to lower your guard and simply enjoy the ride.

High Crimes succeeds in capturing very distinguishable influences from each of its members – something Ironiclast could never fully execute. Here, there is no pressure to make something specific – just a group of musicians having a great time and bringing their own ideas playfully to the table. The album transitions from fast and dirty hardcore punk tracks like “Carry a Brick” to dark, eerie synth-driven songs like “Storm Chaser” to cheesy rock n’ roll sing-a-long moments like “Something Good”, which opens with a group chant of “Y-E-L-L / All of my friends are going to hell”.

Hearing Trohman and Ian have so much fun on guitar throughout the album is truly a delight. It’s almost as if that metaphorical loosening of the tie allows Buckley to tap into his signature wit and exuberant nature. On “Invincible”, easily the most accessible track on the album, Buckley croons, “And if you’re trying to bring me down / Then you’re the last to know / Once the bullet leaves my brain, it can’t be stopped / You’re in over your heard / I’m invincible!”

Later, on “Young Hearts”, Buckley flexes his voice in new ways, with ghostly back-up vocals added to the mix: “Young hearts don’t come free tonight (come free tonight) / And not one of them is built to save my life (to save my life)”. On grimy rocker “Keep Crawling”, he taps into a dark mood of self-loathing, singing, “I’ve been broken / I’ve been shamed / But I keep crawling back / You keep calling it faith”.

With all of its variety, High Crimes still manages to feel cohesive. There are changes of pace and plenty of moments to catch waning ears, but there’s an easy-going sense of purpose that helps tie things all together. Each member finds moments to shine, but never at the cost of pulling the sound too far in one direction. The band even manages to save one final fastball for closing track, “The Fire is Cold”, unleashing ripping guitar riffs and spastic screaming from Buckley, feeling like one final burst of artistic energy that has pent up over the past nine years.

Since its inception, The Damned Things has been a project full of the kind of potential that could conceivably go toe-to-toe with the legacies of the parts that made it. Unfortunately, super groups often suffer from that very trap, never living up to the expectations that come naturally with so many household names. High Crimes may not sit on the same shelf as some of the best releases from Every Time I Die, Anthrax or Fall Out Boy, but it sure as hell works as the kind of rock record that feels fresh in 2019, which is truly no small feat.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

A Quiet Evening with Copeland and Friends

If you listened to our podcast on Copeland a few weeks back, you’ll know that I had never seen the band live. I bought tickets for their Boston show in December, before I had even heard the new album. You’ll also know I ended up loving the new album. I also loved how it translated in the atmosphere of the live show.

They toured with Many Rooms, whom I’d never heard of, and From Indian Lakes, a long time favorite of mine. Generally, the first act on the lineup isn’t who I’m there for, but by the end of Brianna Hunt’s set, I was wondering why Copeland wasn’t opening for her. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an opener sing something more than just fluff. A lot of times, I feel like headliners take the easy way out and pick bands that won’t steal the spotlight from them, but for me, Many Rooms was the highlight of the night. Her honest lyricism about religion and faith in today’s society really hit a chord with me. She just released an album last year called There Is a Presence Here, and her latest single is called “99 Proofs”.

From Indian Lakes was up next, and played a very classic set of tracks from their past two albums, as well as two new tracks. Their lead vocalist commented that this was the “most chill” tour they’d done, and it’s really true. They had a couple of new faces to go along with their new tracks, one of those featuring a new vocalist. I’m assuming we’ll get an album (or at least an EP), and I’m psyched about that — three years is a long time. On a slightly more critical note, it wasn’t my favorite set from the band, but I think that was due to the mechanics of the venue.

Copeland was the last act of the evening. They opened with “As Above, So Alone” from their latest album, Blushing. The songs from the album were great live, and the band used the help of some tracks to recreate some of the vibes the album put off. They played several fan favorites, of course, and following some technical difficulties with “Pope”, Aaron played “California” from Beneath Medicine Tree. The setlist was varied, and I appreciated how many songs from You Are My Sunshine they played.

All in all, it was a great night. The crowd was respectful and the music was great. It was a real privilege to see Copeland play and I hope they’ll come back aorund again soon.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

5 Things Taylor Swift’s Clock Could Be Counting Down to

Taylor Swift is going to announce something this coming Friday, April 26. We know this because her website recently began counting down to that date and her social media channels are teasing what that date might bring. The problem is, it’s all so ambiguous, there’s really no consensus on what it all means or what will actually happen.

In the spirit of conjecture, we’ve compiled our five best guesses as to what will happen on Friday. Some of them are silly, some are not. Will any of them be correct? I guess we’ll find out on Friday.

1. Taylor Releases a New Line of Sunglasses for Chickens

This is one of the silly ones. Or is it? Just this weekend, her social media accounts shared an image of various chicken artwork, all of which include pictures of chickens in sunglasses with the caption 4.26.

So if you want to get super literal about things, it’s kind of obvious what the countdown is leading us toward. And it kinda makes sense, right? I mean, chickens are out in the sun a lot and would probably welcome a little protection from the rays. Except they don’t have ears, so that makes it kind of hard. Okay, maybe this isn’t it.

2. Taylor Ends Her Running Feud with Katy Perry

Wait, is this feud still a thing? Honestly, I’m not going to look it up to find out, but a common conversation around this mysterious countdown is that it’s a hard pivot from the dark vibes that led up to Taylor’s last album, Reputation. The colors are bright and things seem pretty chill. So maybe it’s all good now. But that would be a weird thing to announce on a Friday. So that’s probably not it. But let’s hope the hatchet gets buried anyway.

3. Taylor Launches Her Own Streaming Service

With six full-length albums under her belt and multiple music videos and live tour recordings, Taylor has built quite the multimedia collection. With so many streaming services popping up, why not follow suit and launch her own service? This time, her music is pulled from Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and other services for good – and for the low price of $4.26 per month, you can gain access to every Taylor song and video your heart desires.

But that’s kinda what Tidal is for Jay-Z these days and I honestly can’t remember the last time someone told me they used Tidal, so this is probably a bad idea and not it.

4. Taylor Announces Her Retirement

For someone still under the age of 30, Taylor Swift has had a pretty unbelievable career. She’s won almost every award you can win for making music, has toured the world multiple times over, and is generally regarded as one of the most successful pop artists of her generation. What’s left to prove?

Except that’s not really how being an artist works – you don’t really just quit creating. And plus, that would be a huge bummer, cuz I would love to keep listening to new music created by Taylor Swift, so that’s probably not what this is, but it leads us to our most likely outcome.

5. Taylor Shares a New Single and Gives a Release Date for Her New Album

Sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one. I highly doubt we’re getting a full new album on Friday, because that’s generally not how these things work, but I feel fairly confident that there will be new music and it will probably be in the form of one song.

We’ll also probably get a late summer release date for her new album, which will be fun to look forward to. Also, we’ll get to hear whatever this next stage of artistic evolution sounds like, which I’m pretty interested to find out. So let’s just go with that. Hooray for new music from Taylor Swift (hopefully)!

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Perma Return with New Album “Fight Fair”

I have a friend named Zac who is a musical genius. Anything he touches in the music world becomes incredible. Instruments, songwriting, composition. The dude literally has talent in every aspect of music – except vocally, which isn’t to put him down, because he’ll literally be the first to mention it. But he married a woman who is a vocal mastermind. Everything they work on together is infinitely better than it would be if they were separate. All this is to say that my other favorite musical couple, as well as people who share this same relationship to music, Max and Sherri Bemis, have just released their second album under the name Perma.

You can stream Fight Fair on Spotify.

Perma released their first album, Two of a Crime, in 2013. If you’ve been paying attention to Max this year, you’ll know that he laid Say Anything to rest and is focusing on other aspects of the creative world, specifically writing comics. Sherri is still continuing with Eisley, as well as being an artist, wife and mom to their three kids. (She’s also a hero of mine.)

They released their latest album, Fight Fair on their 10th anniversary, which basically just solidified even more how much admiration I have for this couple. They’re very open about their life, and to watch them make it through the ups and downs and still have so much love and passion and respect for each other is beautiful.

Fight Fair is no Two of a Crime by any means. Since 2013, Max and Sherri have had two more kids, and released five albums between both of their respective bands. The album tells a story of a marriage that has aged. It’s aged like fine wine, of course, but the album sounds significantly more mature than Two of a Crime does. There’s a lot more grit and agression to be heard. It’s aptly named because even though they fight with each other and things aren’t perfect, they still fight for each other every day.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Marina – LOVE

UPDATE: You can read our review of FEAR here.

Last year, I talked a little bit in an article about chasing away winter about my intense love for Marina and the Diamonds. Last year, we had no clue that something was going on with Marina Diamandis, as she had been silent since 2015’s Froot. In the fall though, she released a song with Clean Bandit called “Baby” (which is an absolute bop) and we all noticed something. We had Marina back, but where were her Diamonds? Well, she took the opportunity of three years away to rebrand herself, and now she’s only Marina. What hasn’t changed, though, is the heart and soul she puts into the music she creates.

You can buy or stream LOVE on Apple Music.

Her latest offering, LOVE is part one of a two part album, LOVE + FEAR. She gave no intention that she was going to release them separately, but she tweeted on April 4th that, “[She] created ‘LOVE + FEAR’ as 2 separate records to be listened to individually. I’m releasing ‘LOVE’ today so you can listen to in full before we move onto ‘FEAR’.” So we got four singles (the first four tracks in the listing) and then four totally new tracks in this first wave of new Marina music, and then we’ll get another eight on April 26th.

Each track on the album seems to come from a very personal place for Marina. She’s coming off of a pretty long hiatus, and adding that to the fact that her reasoning for taking a break was the fact that she felt like she was losing herself amidst the touring and constant production, it’s safe to say that she would want to be intentional with the first project she releases. She’s been intentional with every release, but for some reason this album feels bigger than anything she’s embarked on before.

When she released “Baby” with Clean Bandit, I assumed it was just a one-off. Only when I saw the tracklisting did I realise she would use it for the album. I feel like she recorded this as a way to let off some steam. The album is pretty heavy from a lyrical perspective, and “Baby” is a good way to remind us that Marina’s here because she loves making music and wants it to be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved – especially herself.

Though I didn’t know it then, Marina would become a staple in my queue because of the activism she aims to spark. She’s not crazy and totally in your face, but I’ve always seen her music as more than just bubblegum pop. I could name a track from each of her albums that inspires thought from the listener. For LOVE, I would say that there are several. “Enjoy Your Life” is about being mindful and positive even when things seem mundane, “True” is about self esteem, and “To Be Human” is (in my opinion) a companion track to “Savages” from Froot.

If this is LOVE, I can only wonder what we can expect from FEAR. Even when Marina sings about the harder part of life, she wraps it in a musical soundscape that draws us together, making us enjoy using these finer processes of thought. We all see how messed up the world can be, and I believe Marina’s message upon her return is banding together and figuring out how to change. It can start with only one person, and that’s something to be celebrated.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Blaqk Audio – Only Things We Love

The sheer amount of content Davy Havok and Jade Puget release is utterly staggering. The fact that each release is near perfect is frightening. Blaqk Audio, the AFI duo’s electronic project, is relentlessly hypnotic. Dance beats, new wave melodies and Havok’s signature melancholy blend to create a sound that feels as familiar as it is unique. Only Things We Love isn’t the group’s best release, but it’s so close it may as well be.

You can buy or stream Only Things We Love on Apple Music.

It’s hard to peg the meaning behind Blaqk Audio’s albums (or AFI’s, for that matter) due to Havok’s ambiguous writing style. The concepts behind Blaqk Audio releases tend to be far more romantic than any of Havok’s other projects. As such, Only Things We Love is about conquering the anger of youth that prevents us from loving someone else… or it’s about the confessions of a serial killer?

Havok’s vocals are again a demonstration of why he may be the best singer currently active. Decidedly different from the screams and crooning of AFI, Havok’s voice is poignantly drenched in new wave sensationalism. Utterly relaxed, he shifts comfortably between soft verses to energetic, rampant choruses. Powerful inflections in tone give his performance a superb edge that puts Only Things We Love as yet another highlight of Havok’s sensational voice (“Dark Times At the Berlin Wall”).

Puget’s arrangements are among Blaqk Audio’s best. The industrial electronic beats are deep, commanding and pulsing. The best part about Puget’s dance music is that it finds a perfect blend with modern electronica, detailed new wave melody and the corny catchiness of Dance Dance Revolution’s heyday (“Matrimony and Dust”). The downside is that Puget has used many similar synth tones for the last few records. Despite improvements from album to album, there is an argument that the underlying music for each Blaqk Audio release doesn’t do nearly enough to distinguish itself from any past album.

Despite Havok’s best descriptions of gore, such as on opening track “Infinite Skin” (“Blood on the corner / Love on a dead end street / You heard them warn her, when you first heard of me”), Only Things We Love is an album about lost love and learning to forgive. Lead single “The Viles” describes the pain of the aftermath of a break up against Puget’s pulsing synth. Havok pointedly shouts, “Day may break me. Daylight like she, like she burns / Through five nights when all is not right / And again, we meet here”.

Not all is as dark, as songs like “Summer’s Out of Sight” describe the memory of a relationship at the height of passion. Puget’s melodic bass lines and twinkling keyboards shine beneath Havok’s hopeful verses (“I had to crawl the halls to ask when we might meet before you left / You said, ‘Maybe tomorrow or never again’ / But you said, ‘Right now I’m yours’) and the devastated chorus (“Hearing you leave out my name makes me want you / You personalize pain”).

For an album relishing the sound of 80’s new wave electronica, nothing personifies it more than closing tack “Matrimony & Dust”. An elegant homage of 80’s cliches, the song finds the characters meeting again to finally move on to healthier relationships. The sincere tenderness of Havok’s voice as he croons, “And would you believe, somehow, that I am married now?” is astonishing, considering he’s a singer who became famous for throat-shredding screams and skate punk shouting.

Only Things We Love is a bitter album, but not without purpose. In what might be the biggest surprise from Havok, there’s hope in the darkness. The album is humane, carries a sincere resolution and stays true to the era that inspired it. It straddles a fine line between being Blaqk Audio’s most brutal and sweetest album. Fans of the band will find exactly what they expect, and newcomers will find what might be the single most accessible album Havok and Puget have ever written.

4.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and is typing blindly right now while the cat sits in front of his monitor. Her judgemental gaze is not unlike that of a giant squid.

Artist to Watch: Wallows

Unlike my husband, it took me a solid year to get in line with the vibes Wallows has been putting out. He immediately jumped on board with their late 80’s/early 90’s-inspired rock and roll, but for some reason, I didn’t follow suit right away. They’ve since become a staple band for me, and their newest full length, Nothing Happens, has completely chained me to the Wallows train for good.

You can buy or stream Nothing Happens on Apple Music.

The band has been together since 2011, but one of the guys has since become famous for starring in Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” – which is something I really didn’t want to mention because we’re about the MUSIC here at It’s All Dead. However, one can’t deny the uptick in Spotify plays once the show was released. Just so we’re clear, I’m of the belief that fame from other avenues doesn’t matter if your music is good. I’m just salty because I can’t get tickets to their Boston show and want someone (Netflix) to blame.

Their music IS good and I wish their rise in popularity wasn’t so closely tied with TV but here we are. Nothing Happens, is energetic, like their other singles and EPs, touching on interpersonal relationships and waxing nostalgic about the days of their youth. With the album, though, I feel like they really took the opportunity of having our attention for 11 whole songs to build some rapport in the maturity field.

Thematically the album touches on things like adolescence (“Treacherous Doctor”), and how touchy a new relationship is (“Are You Bored Yet”). It’s relatable and bouncy in just the right ways. If you’re in your early 20s, like the guys in Wallows, this album is definitely for you. It’s a picture of how we navigate our ever changing world, and how we really don’t navigate it that well sometimes. Either way, I know it will be at the top of many summer playlists this year.

Photo credit: Alexis Gross

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Carly Rae Jepsen to Release “Dedicated” on May 17

Nearly four years after the release of her last full length album, Emotion, Carly Rae Jepsen has announced her new album, Dedicated. The 15-track release will drop on May 17 and be followed by a U.S. tour this summer. You can view the tour dates below and pre-order the album here.

Emotion was heralded as one of the best pop albums of 2015 and has since gained traction in the discussion for best pop album of the decade. A year later, Jespen followed up that release with Emotion: Side B, a collection of b-sides that didn’t make the cut, but were still some of the most enjoyable pop tracks of 2016.

So far, Jepsen has released two songs from Dedicated: “No Drug Like Me” and “Now That I’ve Found You”. What are you excited to hear from Carly Rae on her new album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

It wasn’t that long ago that I was commenting to someone on the possibility that Billie Eilish may truly mark the long-expected demise of “the album.” The Los Angeles-born teen became a viral pop sensation via individual tracks and experiences released to YouTube and has continued climbing in profile song-by-song, seemingly without record industry assistance.

You can buy or stream When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? on Apple Music.

Yet here we are in early 2019 with her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? released via Interscope Records. So maybe Eilish won’t hammer the final nail into antiquated music-consumption practices (yet), but she certainly stands to be the next in line to turn pop music on its head.

Right from the start, it’s clear that Eilish is pulling at the dark, dread-filled sounds she began exploring on some of her best 2018 tracks. Indeed, “Bad Guy” and “Xanny” follow in the footsteps of hits like “You Should See Me in a Crown” and “When the Party’s Over”, which fit right in on the front half of When We All Fall Asleep.

“All the Good Girls Go to Hell” feels like the culmination of Eilish’s brooding explorations and has already been added to my next Halloween party playlist. She truly excels when leaning into her youthful agnostic indifference and tying it to fuzzy, bass-heavy production. You can practically see her smirk as she delivers the lines, “Pearly Gates look more like a picket fence / Once you get inside ‘em / Got friends but can’t invite them”.

Yet for all of the ways Eilish displays her angst and wit in the way only a teenager can, she truly shows her depth as an artist when the music dies down a little. What’s amazing is that the themes she explores so deliciously to buzz and bass sound much more thoughtful and poignant when delivered quietly.

The back half of When We All Fall Asleep feels like someone is slowly turning down the volume before closing with “Goodbye”. Here, we see past the veneer as Eilish sings lines like, “The world’s a little blurry / Or maybe it’s my eyes” on “Ilomilo” or when she digs at depression and suicidal thoughts on “Listen Before I Go”, singing, “Tell me love is endless / Don’t be so pretentious / Leave me like you do”.

Last year, “When the Party’s Over” showed us a potential roadmap to these kinds of moments, and the album reaches its high water mark with “I Love You”, a quiet, acoustic duet with her brother Finneas. The tale of a complicated relationship, it’s a reminder of how real feelings can feel, no matter your age or experience. Eilish is creating art for a younger generation of music followers, but the core concepts here are timeless.

None of this is easy to do, and it speaks to the deep talent of a 17-year-old who got started writing songs in her bedroom, just like almost every great artist. Yes, there’s filler and missteps and the general type of experimentation that makes debut albums more mystery than definition. Nevertheless, Billie Eilish has cemented herself as a bonafide pop star, even she’d have you believe she has no interest in filling that role. That’s typically how the best kinds of stories begin.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.