“Happier Than Ever,” Eilish’s second studio album following 2019’s Grammy-winning “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” dropped at midnight on Friday, with the 19-year-old proving her creative transformation goes far deeper than a new hair color.
For a singer who’s been candid about past mental health struggles and coping with fame at a young age, Eilish simultaneously flaunts self-assured confidence and mature self-reflection on her latest record, telling off a toxic ex in one track (“Happier Than Ever”) while falling in love with who she wants to become in another (“my future”).
And Eilish isn’t afraid to shake up fans’ expectations, dropping one track akin to a spoken-word poem aimed at scrutiny over her body and fashion choices (“Not My Responsibility”).
The 16 tracks also take listeners on a nonlinear journey of falling in and out of love, as Eilish croons about heartbreak and the painful, uncertain process of healing. Though each song shines in its own way — and fans are sure to come away with very different lists of favorites — here are five tracks all music lovers should take note of:
“Goldwing” is a song like no other in Eilish’s body of work. The track begins as a church hymn, with a choir resounding, “He hath come to the bosom of his beloved.” But later, a beat drops, transforming the song into something more akin to the dark-pop style of her first album. The song’s dynamic twist keeps listeners on their toes and allows “Goldwing” to soar.
4. ‘Getting Older’
Eilish opens the album with this soft, meditative reflection on, well, getting older.
And she doesn’t hold back lyrically, offering what seems like commentary on her own feelings about the music industry. “Things I once enjoyed just keep me employed now,” she confesses. “Things I’m longing for someday I’ll be bored of.”
She also opens up about dealing with stalkers as a result of fame: “There’s a lot I’m grateful for / But it’s different when a stranger’s always waiting at your door,” she sings. “The strangers seem to want me more than anyone before / Too bad they’re usually deranged.”
Whether you’re coming of age as a pop star or not, the song is a relatable tear-jerker about the passage of time and a beautiful opener.
3. ‘Male Fantasy’
This song’s instrumentals are simple, but its inventive lyrics land “Male Fantasy” on this list.
The song opens with Eilish describing a night home alone, as she tries to “distract myself with pornography.” But the track is far from crass, as Eilish expands the tune into a deeper meditation on loneliness and the contrived nature of forcing your heart to heal.
“Cause I loved you then and I love you now and I don’t know how,” she sings. “Guess it’s hard to know when nobody else comes around / If I’m getting over you or just pretending to be alright / Convince myself I hate you.”
Rather than end the album with a definitive declaration of healing, Eilish closes with this track — and, thus, keeps listeners living in the question of how to move on from heartbreak. It’s sophisticated ambiguity like this that proves why, at 19, Eilish is already a music legend.
2. ‘Happier Than Ever’
A theme across the album is transformation, and, much like the song “Goldwing,” the title track takes listeners on an instrumental journey.
The song starts sweet, soft and innocent, with Eilish explaining to her ex she’s actually “happier than ever” without them. And, much like a heart healing over time, the song itself grows more confident and bold as it goes on, blossoming from a subdued, quiet tune into a full-on rock anthem, drums and all.
“I don’t relate to you no / Cause I’d never treat me this (expletive),” she sings. “You made me hate this city / And I don’t talk (expletive) about you on the internet / Never told anyone anything bad / ‘Cause that (expletive)’s embarrassing.”
It’s a curveball from Eilish, known for her soft, intimate vocals. But it doesn’t disappoint.
1. ‘Halley’s Comet’
Perhaps the biggest twist on “Happier Than Ever” is that, on an album dealing so much with heartbreak, the best song is a gushing, unashamed love ballad.
There are no fancy vocal tricks on this song. No big production twists. It’s a simple song about one of the most complex experiences: falling in love. And yet, Eilish’s signature, soft voice makes it soar above the rest.
“I’ve been loved before but right now in this moment,” she sings with candor. “I feel more and more like I was made for you.”
It’s vulnerable. It’s honest. It’s Eilish doing what Eilish does best.