An eerily common tale of false love, abuse and a tragic, bitter end
by Kevin O’Neil, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Unfortunately, domestic amorous plight – be it abuse, manipulation or otherwise – is a particularly contagious blight this day and age. This subject is more commonly expressed through film and book and – of course – music. Take, for instance, Billie Eillish’s newest album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” which tells a master crafted story of how poisonous a toxic personality can really be, complete with plot and characters, woven all throughout.
The album first introduces the “bad guy” character who nurtures pain in the one who can safely be referred to as Eillish. He – assuming he’s male – is most forwardly characterized in his own perspective through the songs “Bad Guy” and “You Should See Me in a Crown,” both of which are full of egotism and bombast galore, coloring him as someone who’s only after what selfish pleasures the fancy the most. This man is the Abuser, the Antagonist; the one who uses his victim as simply a mean to his own end. The entire album uses a bit of voice augmentation to differentiate who is speaking, the Abuser or the Victim.
Shortly after the introduction of the “bad guy,” is the introduction of the “good girl”; the innocent, the victim. “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” introduces the victim. However, on its own, the song is about climate change, but when placed as a part of this narrative, it takes on a different purpose.
The victim is characterized as desiring change in her relationship with her abuser, as in “Wish You Were Gay.” She is characterized as being unable to leave, as she’s addicted to the cruel love she’s given, as in “My Strange Addiction.” It is revealed that she lost so much as a result of the relationship, especially friends – whether figuratively or literally – as in “bury a friend.” Most importantly, this relationship has eroded so much of her mental health away that it has driven her to suicide, as heard in “Listen before I go.”
Eillish herself confirmed in an MTV interview, “It just kind of dies down and it feels like it’s a goodbye. It almost feels like a RIP.”
Altogether, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” is an album about as warm and cozy as a rusty knife on a half rotten workbench in a half-rotten derelict barn – and while that probably is the intended taste of this particular bag of apples, Eillish had earned herself a subjective rating of 7/10 bad guys. These apples are just a tad too sour.