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Billie Eilish’s debut EP is vivid and expertly poised

(Courtest Billie Eilish Official Facebook Page)

The new age of pop seems to be around the corner as emerging artist Billie Eilish, a fifteen-year-old Los Angeles based singer-songwriter, breaks the scene with her debut EP, “dont smile at me.” If you haven’t heard her yet, you’ve most likely heard her single “Ocean Eyes” —a soft electronic ballad that made the singer an overnight Soundcloud sensation.

What makes Eilish an anomaly, like all other teen prodigies, is her onset precociousness that seems to parallel the same wave of hysteria that Lorde caused when she released “Royals.” Her cool-girl style is evident on her Instagram and through carefully cryptic tweets which exude a carefree and effortless attitude of the teenage experience through a rather poetic lens.

Acclaimed as the new “it girl” in pop, Billie Eilish is essentially genre-less once you listen to the entire scope of the EP. The opening track “COPYCAT” is lush with smooth, brooding vocals paired with an irresistible production that emulates the wickedness of a femme fatale. She sticks her middle finger to those who mimic her originality, and delivers a chilling opener that sets the tone for her no-nonsense attitude.

In the face of pop music there’s always a pressure to stick a particular image or a set of manufactured beats that can keep a crowd excited. Eilish, on the other hand, sticks to her own guns as she dips her crystalline voice between tracks to show off the complexity of being a teenager. Her clever and sophisticated lyrics blur the line between a lullaby-laced haze and the cutting edge of a switchblade.

The songs “my boy” and “bellyache” contain the aura of any misunderstood manic pixie dream girl you’ve seen on TV with an evil plan in mind, while “idontwannabeyouanymore” is coated with Sinatra-esque melodies that channel a sound that’s equal parts 60s and early 2000s R&B. Eilish even gets acoustic with “party favor,” a track that emanates the sound of a voicemail to your ex-boyfriend.

The EP’s final track, “hostage,” sounds like a love song dosed with something a little more troubling. A running theme in Eilish’s music is a seemingly psychotic edge that juxtaposes the softness of her voice, from channeling a murderer-on-the-run in “bellyache” (“My friends aren’t far, in the back of my car lay their bodies…”) to the dynamic between love and obsession in “hostage.”

“I wanna steal your soul and hide you in my treasure chest,” she whispers, harmonizing with minimal guitar chords as she uses her voice as the main instrument. The singer’s ability to flip a switch between sweet lovesickness and terrifying possession is both alarming and awe-inducing, especially for someone who’s still in the middle of their teens.

As “dont smile at me” delivers a refined and multi-faceted palate, the world awaits Billie Eilish’s next storytelling endeavors. Best said in “COPYCAT,” “I don’t belong to anyone, but everybody knows my name.” Within the coming years, you definitely will.

Ariya Sonethavy can be reached at asonethavy@umass.edu.

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