Billie's voice has flourished from intimate wordings and quirky whispers to classy undressings of emotion through power and strength. Vulnerable, yet in control and laying all bare to be heard by those who listen. Having frequently been at the attention of a news cycle set on critiquing her presentation of self, the topics of the record get wrapped up in a critical awareness of this pressure which she replies to with unshakeable truth through reason. For young people growing up, these messages are so on point. The mesmerizing transient drone of Not My Responsibility sets an intense focus for Billie to talk truth of all the commentary on her clothes, appearance and sexuality, illuminating that the problem lies with those who choose to speculate and judge themselves.
Getting Older and My Future deliver such a charming maturity and positivity from a young person navigating the waves. "Cause I'm in love with my future, can't wait to meet her", wonderful lyrics, its so nice to hear warm outlook on ones life and aging. The classic taste of airy reverberated synths, soft inviting pianos, gentle guitar strumming and crafty grooving baselines somehow nestle sweetly between their "traditional" sound with tracks like Oxytocin, I Didn't Change My Number and Overheated, these songs being more rooted in the style that defined her breakout.
Billie may take the spotlight but Finneas deserves much praise for masterfully expanded the albums pallet to sound as if a group of top session musicians had been brought in to gloss up the electronic aesthetic of his When We Fall Asleep Where We Go instrumentation. The record navigates both ends of the spectrum and all in between as its run time offers up a fair helping of variety. Billie too overlaps her playful whisperings and glowing traditional singing to keep things healthily interesting. Their chemistry is sublime, offering up an engrossing engagement from subdued instrumentals that embrace sparsity and slow tempos to give keen power to the minimal melodies and aesthetics left to be heard. Most the instruments arrive soft, ambient and incidentally with flourishes of energy coming from snappy percussion forging interesting grooves.
With every listen I've felt a fizzle in the end starting at NDA, a quite remarkable lyrical tale and musing that doesn't seem to hit the stride instrumentally, the bite of the words just don't resonate for some unknown reason. It tempo shifts up at the end, transitioning into Therefore I Am, which quite honestly felt all too much like a rehash the debut records vibe. Then the title track, gets off to a wonderful start but suffers growing pains agressing up into a sing along grunge blowout that lacked the right melody or lyric to give it the vibe it clearly strides for. No album is perfect and not every track resonates quite like some of Billie's words which are as stated, quite remarkable for the pitfalls she is successfully navigating.
Your Power makes a personal favorite for me. With a soft gush of Ethereal wind, the two usher in a heartwarming guitar and voice song reminiscent of Mazzy Star. Its lyrical content feels intentionally offset from the melancholy vibes the song ushers forth. I doubt Happier Than Ever will have quite the impact its predecessor had however between the two we simply have more fantastic songs to enjoy and plenty more to look forward too it seems. The one thing I hope people take away from this one is the lyrics. So much to be learned from someone else's experience here.