Seventeen-year old Billie Eilish, already arguably an artistic genius, has released her first single of 2019 with the immaculately haunting When I Was Older. The track is inspired by the film Roma, a story that follows the journey of a middle class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
With a twisted piano lullaby to begin, When I Was Older evolves into a skin crawling slow burn, each rise and fall dangling you over an uncertain edge. Each sound that Eilish and producer/brother Finneas O’Connell create carries a hint of insanity. The entire song is unhinged, Eilish’s menacing delivery not unlike that of her recent single When The Party’s Over.
When I Was Older is another glowing testament to the power of Eilish and O’Connell as a partnership. It’s darker, yet carefully contained. The production feels far smoother than past work and even more experimental. Taking directly from the film, the pair pulled sounds from certain scenes and morphed them into rhythmic elements; a driving percussive force in the second verse, sounds of the ocean rolling over the chorus. Lyrically, we see Eilish present a sombre, chilling narrative. One that aims to follow the pieces of Roma’s narrative that struck her the most.
Easily presenting as their best work to date, When I Was Older proves that the siblings have the power to dominate the electronic pop world by refusing to conform and instead consistently holding on to their distinct style. The track is both frightening and sonically outlandish, offering another unique taste of how much we can expect from Eilish’s upcoming debut album. She’s an artist that exists beyond her years and possesses the unique ability to tap into something that allows her to write music from perspectives other than her own, telling stories that feel so painfully vulnerable that it’s often a surprise to find out she wasn’t drawing on her own experiences.