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Billie Eilish demonstrates prowess and versatility in ‘HIT ME HARD AND SOFT’

Image courtesy of Interscope Records
Released on May 17, ‘HIT ME HARD AND SOFT’ marks Eilish’s first album release since 2021

As one of the leading artists of her generation, Billie Eilish has multiple albums and numerous accolades to her name. Since her dynamic emergence into the music industry with her breakout song “ocean eyes,” Eilish has created a signature voice for herself while still displaying versatility. From the guitar-backed, passionate choruses of “Happier than Ever” to the sorrowful, keening verses of “What Was I Made For?,” Eilish has shown her willingness to step outside of her comfort zone while maintaining consistency throughout her work.

Similarly, her songwriter, producer and brother Finneas O’Connell (known as FINNEAS), has grown massively as well, having accompanied Eilish for the entirety of her music career before coming to expand his personal repertoire. From producing Eilish’s debut album in his bedroom to working alongside top artists such as Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars, FINNEAS continues to awe audiences with his lyricism and expert ability. 

Together, the two have teamed up again to create “HIT ME HARD AND SOFT,” an album that is both sonically new but not groundbreaking. Debuting at the No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200, the album has already produced massive commercial success, having sold a jaw-dropping 339,000 units for Eillish’s best opening sales week yet.

“HIT ME HARD AND SOFT” does just that. Through themes of queerness, obsession, body image and love, Eilish and FINNEAS bombard their listeners with tracks that reside at both ends of the emotional and production spectrums. 

Heavily mixed songs full of passion or sensuality are interspersed with toned-down songs that go lighter on the sound design. 

The opening track, “SKINNY,” has a soft intro dictated by the gentle strummings of a guitar, which accompanies Eillish throughout the majority of the song. Eilish displays her signature soft voice as she sings dolefully about a lost lover and the cultural scrutiny over her weight. A sorrowful, string instrument-heavy outro ties it all together. 

Meanwhile, sensuality drips from her second track, “LUNCH,” amidst an addicting drum beat, which had a five second cameo at the end of “SKINNY.” Eilish croons seductively about her desire to “eat that girl for lunch.” “Tastes like she might be the one/It’s a craving, not a crush,” Eilish sings in the hook, playing on the established metaphor. 

Similar to “LUNCH” is “THE DINER,” as indicated by the relatedness of the titles. Sonically reminiscent of Eilish’s previous works with a creepy, haunted feel (“Bad Guy,” anyone?). Eilish furthers her obsession with her female lover, posing as a stalker waiting for her target. “I came in through the kitchen looking for something to eat/I left a calling card so they would know that it was me,” Eilish hums mischievously. 

In songs like “BIRDS OF A FEATHER” and “THE GREATEST,” she takes her singing to new heights by demonstrating her impressive vocal range. With its blissful choruses and bubbly verses, “BIRDS OF A FEATHER” masks a masterful belting performance by Eilish, particularly in the built-up climax at the end of the song. “THE GREATEST” has no such problem. The song kicks off demurely; Eilish sings softly and largely by herself with minimal production. Her mournful laments about failing to win over her lover continue before they explode into a passionate, wailing chorus at the height of the song. Drums and a guitar come to life to accentuate her powerful voice. Fans will be reminded of her 2021 release “Happier than Ever.”

Not to be ignored, Eilish’s counterpart FINNEAS demonstrates his raw talent and ability to push boundaries with the release of this album. Songs such as “SKINNY” and “BLUE” feature subtly layered vocals and tasteful string accompaniments, something not seen in any Eilish album to date. In “CHIHIRO,” “L’AMOUR DE LA VIE” and “BITTERSUITE,” FINNEAS uses a variety of electronic elements and zippy synths that give each song a unique texture and feel. 

“HIT ME HARD AND SOFT” provides just the right amount of newness while still remaining relatively within the realm of Eilish’s discography; this album toes the line between new and unfamiliar territory. Even those who have complaints will have something to appreciate.

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