Billie Eilish – Hit Me Hard And Soft review: assured, adventurous and irresistible


There’s a section of Billie Eilish’s third album, ‘Hit Me Hard And Soft’, that feels like we’ve followed the pop star on a night out. It’s not just that this suite of songs pulls from a sonic palette that’s made for going out – from elastic, pumped-up indie that feels like it would soundtrack Skins were it on air now to expansive electronic tapestries – but the scenarios and feelings it weaves through, too. 

This collection begins with ‘Lunch’ – the candidate for a new addition to the indie sleaze canon – which captures the rush of crushing on someone new. Eilish would disagree with that characterisation of her connection with the person she’s singing of – “It’s a craving, not a crush,” she playfully sings in the track before admitting she’s “been trying hard not to overeat” – but goes on to giddily describe the kind of flirty gestures you make when you’re trying to impress someone you think is hot. “You need a seat? I’ll volunteer,” she purrs at one point. 


‘Chihiro’ takes us on a journey through the club, its beats and bassline kept low, like we’re hearing them from the smoking area. Midway through, they subtly ramp up in volume, the groove leading the way to the dancefloor and a rippling, revolving synth line intertwines with the mix, dialling up the energy. ‘Birds Of A Feather’ shifts again but keeps the euphoria that started to build at its predecessor’s end going through bright, soft-focus indie-pop that has Eilish promising to be with her partner for eternity. “I’ll love you til the day that I die / Til the day that I die,” she vows earnestly. “Til the light leaves my eyes.” 

As with every good night, there’s got to be a comedown at some point, and ‘Wildflower’ begins the descent – the moment where you start to sober up and replay everything that you’ve said and done over the last few hours. In this case, Eilish is grappling with guilt, acknowledging she perhaps betrayed the woman who was “crying on my shoulder” by getting into something with their ex. The soft, fingerpicked ‘The Greatest’ hits the bottom, the star realising the person she’s been giving everything for isn’t worth it. “Man, am I the greatest,” she sings sarcastically. “My congratulations.” 

‘Hit Me Hard And Soft’ is like a musical bridge. It feels like Eilish taking us into new territory for her, but with enough remnants of the sound and style she crafted on her first two albums for it not to be an abrupt change. The way ‘The Greatest’ erupts at its end feels like a more classic rock take on the crescendo of ‘Happier Than Ever’, and there’s plenty of the hushed emotion throughout that has become part of the star’s sonic DNA. Closing track ‘Blue’ marks a bold peak in creativity, stripping back softly swinging, rich and warm layers to a skeleton of dark electronics and gorgeous strings that broods with ominousness. 

Lyrically, it continues the 21-year-old’s approach of processing her experiences and relationships in song. The album’s opening two tracks are prime examples – the gentle ‘Skinny’ analyses not just Eilish’s relationship with fame and her job but the reaction to the changes in her body. “People say I’m happy just because I got skinny,” she sings. “But the old me is still me and maybe the real me / And I think she’s pretty / And I still cry.” ‘Lunch’, meanwhile, is the first time she’s explicitly explored her queerness in her music and its infectious chorus (“I could eat that girl for lunch / Yeah, she dances on my tongue / Tastes like she might be the one”) is a cheeky, fun way of delving into that side of her identity. 

But when can I hear the next one?” Eilish asks at the end of the album, her enquiry made as ‘Blue’ fades out. There are rumours that ‘Hit Me Hard And Soft’ is one half of a double album, and that line could be a hint towards more music to come soon. As it stands, Eilish’s third album is an accomplished return – the sound of a young artist becoming ever more adventurous, assured and irresistible. 

billie-eilish-hit-me-hard-and-soft-reviewReleased May 17 2024