While moving and filled with dreary sentiments, 'What They'll Say About Us' suffers from sounding just a little bit too bland.
FINNEAS has never been in the spotlight in the same way his sister, Billie Eilish, has been. Despite helping write most of her music, often touring with her and even appearing in Glee, Billie’s fame has often eclipsed FINNEAS, which is a shame. An accomplished musician who often shares the same melancholic vibes as his sister, FINNEAS’ music often feels more musical than the electronic sounds, synths and pop-inspired beats that accompany Eilish’s music. That’s not to say Eilish’s brand of music is in any way inferior, but there’s something about the subdued approach to life that FINNEAS takes that makes his sound so charming and often more heartbreaking to listen to. ‘What They’ll Say About Us’ is no different, and while it pales in comparison to some of FINNEAS’ other heart-aching songs like ‘I Lost a Friend’ and ‘Die Alone’ by being a tad too bland, it’s still an intriguing song that I found myself putting on repeat endlessly.
The premise of the song is to reflect on this year, as FINNEAS himself stated that the song “is dedicated to all who have had to endure this year” and so the minimalist approach to backing music with the piano and few computer-generated sounds works well in accentuating the lyrics of the song as well as FINNEAS’ voice. In fact, FINNEAS’ voice is the stand-out as he demonstrates more vocal range than we’re used to listening to, as he hits generally higher notes as well as sustaining them in a beautifully elegiac way.
What the song suffers from is a lyrical simplicity and a failure to provide a sense of momentary “optimism” that FINNEAS hoped to create. In fact, the song ends on “If you don’t wake up / I’ll know you tried / I wish you could see him / He looks just like you” which happens to tug on the heartstrings so emphatically that the creeping melancholy fails to capture what FINNEAS was apparently aiming for. Generally, the lyrics seem more focused on telling a scene that never matches what FINNEAS is aiming for, and that lets it down. When I listen to the song I picture a mother giving birth to a baby boy and then finding herself too weak to carry on – there’s certainly moving sentiments I appreciate there but not something that matches with FINNEAS’ desire for the song.
The song is still a good song, it’s just not great by FINNEAS’ standards. It fails to capture what it aims to achieve, and while it’s guided by great vocal capability and musical accompaniment, it just ultimately feels a little… bland.
‘What They’ll Say About Us’ is available to listen to now via AWAL Records.