Michael Cragg on Billie Elish’s Don’t Smile At Me
As with Swindon’s finest Billie Piper, LA’s Billie Eilish is clicking her career into gear at the tender age of 15.
Actually, if we’re being factually correct, Eilish released her first single two years ago, when she was just 13 (!), but for the sake of that intro let’s just say both musicians started properly at 15.
Either way, Billie Eilish - as clearly displayed on excellent new single Copycat - is the future for introspective, drip-feed pop chock-full of atmosphere, bite and enough melodic charm to keep you coming back for more. No, you’re saying she’s the new Lorde...
Billie O’Connell - for that is her real name - makes all her music with her brother Finneas, which lends the whole enterprise an intuitive looseness, especially on breakthrough single Bellyache, which morphs from a perky, guitar-lead intro into a beat-driven stomper built around a cheery chorus.
There’s murky darkness bubbling underneath most of Eilish’s songs - her EP, in full teenage emo mode, is called dont smile at me [sic] (it’s out on August 11).
One song about how “people do everything someone else does”, has a brilliant bit where the big squelchy beat and the random snatches of screaming fall away to leave a pretty piano figure. Eilish regretfully sings, “I’m so sorry now you know, sorry I’m the one that told you so”.
Just as she sighs “sorry” for the third time there’s a pause, and with all the teenage sarcasm she can muster she says, “psych!” and the song explodes back into full view. File under: very good.
Michael Cragg (@michaelcragg)
Writer, (The Guardian, Q, i-D)