Album Reviews

Billie Eilish – Hit Me Hard And Soft

(Darkroom/Interscope) UK release date: 17 May 2024

Tender, weird, emotional, surreal, and completely unique – this might be the very best pop album of 2024

Billie Eilish - Hit Me Hard And Soft The new album by global superstar Billie Eilish, Hit Me Hard And Soft, is surprising for just how simple it is – a rare album by a pop phenom that actually attempts to have the listeners enjoy themselves, rather than tangling them up in some odd concept or boring them with a grandiose sentiment. Hit Me Hard And Soft is just a lovely album for the sake of it, and what a refreshing experience that is (see also: Dua Lipa‘s new one).

The album opens with the hushed, cinematic Skinny, which builds slowly towards a suitably evocative orchestral crescendo. Fabulous. This then segues into Lunch – a straightforward, dancefloor-ready electro-pop banger that celebrates its queerness through a timeworn extended metaphor (“I could eat that girl for lunch”) and some sultry vocals. CHIHIRO, which follows, leans some staggeringly gorgeous vocals against a muscular bass line (that sounds like it was played on an actual bass guitar) and arpeggiated synths to wondrous effect.

The retro R&B stylings of Birds Of A Feather manage to be both nostalgic and – in the context of the album they’re on – relentlessly modern. The tiresome strummed acoustic guitar of Wildflower threatens to produce the first dud of the album, but Eilish’s vocals manage to save it from the compost heap. It’s not the strongest song here, but proves that it belongs by the end. The Greatest goes back to the operatic/cinematic mode of the opener, but packs a harder punch and has much more rhythmic impact. L’Amour De Ma Vie has a lovably hilarious switch-up mid-song, shifting from rather sedate, slinky soft rock to glitchy, crunchy Charli XCX electro. The Diner is the closest thing to a bad guy on here, if only for its sinister nature, not necessarily its skewed cabaret theatrics. It’s an undeniable highlight.

Overall, like previous Billie Eilish albums, Hit Me Hard And Soft is tender, weird, emotional, surreal, and completely unique. She takes ideas and sounds that you thought you had a firm handle on and (in collaboration with her brother Finneas, of course) skewers them and barbecues them until they’re almost completely unrecognisable from the source. Hit Me Hard And Soft might be the very best pop album released so far in 2024, and it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable.

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