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Billie Eilish, music's biggest anti-pop star, returns home a hero

August Brown, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Her heavier, danceable singles such as "Bad Guy" and "You Should See Me in a Crown" are, by now, fixtures in teen life.

Her lyrics are sometimes gleefully provocative: On "Bad Guy," she says, "I'm that bad type / Make your mama sad type / Make your girlfriend mad tight / Might seduce your dad type." But on "Xanny," she watches friends lose themselves to self-medication: "They just keep doing nothing / Too intoxicated to be scared."

The lines between vocalist and crowd were drowned out when she sang them. "Xanny," "All the Good Girls Go to Hell" and "Bellyache" are, at the right volume, party tracks that can transform a room (and did on Tuesday). But they're also affecting on a solo bus ride home, and the shift between these songs' close-confidence on record and gut-punch bass onstage was arresting.

"If you absolutely despise yourself, this song is for you," she said, introducing "Idontwannabeyouanymore." Pretty dark as crowd-rallying cries go, but rally they did.

But Eilish was at her best at her quietest, when her skills as a writer and singer were laid bare. When she was lofted in the air with O'Connell in a bed to perform "I Love You" in front of a giant moon, the scene looked a little local-theater-ish. But if you closed your eyes, you could hear one of pop's most vivid, challenging songwriters wringing something new and wild from the simplest materials.

She came back down for closer "Bury a Friend," her weirdest and most addictive single yet. The song's deadpan chants, which gave her album its title, here became earnest.

 

No, really: Where do we go when our minds go dark at night?

Eilish doesn't know yet. But on Tuesday, she threw up a slime-green beacon for anyone who wants to find out.

(c)2019 Los Angeles Times

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