Music this week: Billie and Bond are a near-perfect match

 

Photo credit: Ryan Quintal on Unsplash

Photo credit: Ryan Quintal on Unsplash

“No Time To Die” – Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish and FINNEAS had “No Time To Die” long prepared, hoping to pitch it for the next Bond theme and their dream became a reality. Was it the right choice for the theme or did Eilish only run away with it for her current renown? It’s hard to say; the song is successful as a Bond theme and an Eilish song, refusing to compromise her musical distinctiveness, but it’s just not what it could’ve been.

The instrumental is the star of the show; Eilish’s vocals remain characteristically soft and whispery, but she refuses to let the cinematic instrumental tower over her. The pairing gives the song an overall haunting quality instead, a spooky serenity reminiscent of a more mature When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

However, the song still feels like a missed opportunity, especially when it has to stand up to prior Bond themes. A slow song, “No Time To Die” is full of moments that feel as though they’re about to build into a powerful crescendo before the song falls back down to its original softness. Eilish eventually reaches the most vocal strength we’ve seen from the soft-spoken songstress thus far in her career, but the song itself doesn’t hit as hard as it could and feels rather anticlimactic. Three stars.

 

“Ohio” – King Princess

A staple of her live shows, King Princess has finally brought “Ohio” to the masses on the brand new deluxe version of her eclectic debut, Cheap Queen. Weighing in at five full minutes, “Ohio” manages to take the listener on a lot of twists and turns. The first two minutes are soft and warm, almost nostalgic, something to lull the listener into comfort. By the time the two minute mark hits, however, King Princess is louder and more unapologetic than ever, managing to make herself heard over sprawling, high-energy rock. It’s a striking difference from her novel indie pop, but she makes it work. As someone who thought Cheap Queen had quite a few forgettable moments, I’m happy to say that “Ohio” brings the energy that I thought the album deserved. Four stars.

 

“Old Me” – 5 Seconds of Summer

I, like many other once-teenage girls who had thought they were too good for One Direction at the time, have a bit of a history with 5 Seconds of Summer. Nothing enchanted 17-year-old me like a 6-foot-tall teenage boy with a lip ring singing profound lyrics with such ardency, from “that minivan that you drive really gets me going” to “in my bedroom thinking of you, pictures in my private folder”. Write what you know, I guess.

But as 5SOS and I both grew up, we grew apart — we both grew quite different. “Old Me”, a light pop banger shows as much. The song is a decent exploration of vocals that once bordered on yelling with zero purpose; their instrumentation has become quite sleek and intoxicating. With all of this on top of a catchy chorus, “Old Me” sounds concocted out of a recipe to make a radio hit. This, however, is where it suffers: there’s no distinctiveness to it; even their prior radio-friendly tracks like “Youngblood” were clearly 5SOS. After a tour with The Chainsmokers, it seems as though the two have blended far too close together — as if The Chainsmokers already don’t have much of an identifiable sound of their own. As a prior diehard, I’ve found that all the post-high school 5SOS songs I’ve heard are a far cry from their pop punk roots, leaving me wondering if the “old them” was the real one or if it’s this. Sure, they could’ve done a lot better back then, but they could do a lot better than now too. Three stars.

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