Billie Eilish ‘Hit Me Hard and Soft’ is fresh and familiar

Songwriter and Housewife lead singer Brighid Fry reviews Eilish’s latest for NEXT

Billie Eilish 'Hit Me Hard and Soft' Album Cover

Billie Eilish:

Hit Me Hard and Soft

Genre: Pop

Sound: Danceable ear worms with a personal touch
If you like: Chappel Roan, Renee Rapp, Weyes Blood
Best track: CHIHIRO
Release: Now
Rating: NNNNN (out of 5)
Why you should listen:  Billie Eilish has been dazzling the ears of anxiety-ridden depressed teens (many of us who have now entered our 20s) for eight years now, and this record is classic Billie but with a grace and feeling of being settled that feels new. Hit Me Hard and Soft is a fun and genre-bending collection that will draw many of us onto the dancefloor. Perfectly timed to land just before Pride month, this will no doubt be the soundtrack to Pride parties all over the world.

Billie Eilish’s newest record, Hit Me Hard and Soft, feels both a logical and inevitable continuation from her last two albums as well as something new. It has all the hallmarks of her music: impeccably layered and breathy vocals, growling synthesized bass, bossa nova grooves and songs that expertly transition from melancholic and intimate to expansive dance breaks.

The production by Eilish’s brother and collaborator, Finneas, as always perfectly walks the line between lo-fi bedroom pop and something slicker than we would expect from any other chart-topping artist.

Those who love the angst of previous Eilish records will still find plenty to mope to on this record, but don’t be surprised if songs like Birds of a Feather also have you dancing while reliving the feeling of being head over heels in love. While Eilish has never been the person to cater to what’s commercially viable, this album seems especially understated, drawing influences from a fun combination of contemporary jazz fusion and Mezzanine-era Massive Attack.

In a time of TikTok and short attention spans, it’s exciting to see multiple songs with long run times, a couple getting up to the over five-minute mark. Conversely, with other popular albums from the last couple of years, like Tortured Poets Department having a whopping 31 songs on the track list, this album has only 10, and every track feels very intentional. At a fairly short run time of 47 minutes, I almost wish there was even more to listen to; however, after growing up so publicly, Eilish is clearly being choosy about what to show and share with us, which is understandable.

Speaking of the public eye, Eilish’s sexuality has been the topic of too much debate and commentary over the past couple of years, but it must be said: 2024 has been the year for sapphic pop, and Billie Eilish has come to join the party! The album’s second song Lunch is, to put it simply, super gay. It is also the only song on the album that feels like it has the makings of a traditional hit — and as a member of the community myself, it is incredibly gratifying to see the lead single be one that is so unabashedly queer. It will be going on many a sapphic playlist, right alongside Renee Rapp and Chappel Roan songs.

I’m hesitant to call this album “mature” as that is a quality that I believe Eilish’s music has always had, and this album is by no means upbeat or happy, but there is a sense of peace and self-assuredness in the songs that I imagine can only come from stepping away from the public eye and embracing all parts of oneself. I look forward to blasting this album as I, too, try to find myself in my 20s.

— Brighid Fry is a songwriter and lead singer in the band Housewife.

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