What most people don’t see behind the widely successful Billie Eilish, is the work of her brother, Finneas O’Connell.
FINNEAS, a far lesser-known artist than his pop star sibling, has been producing content since early 2016. While he mostly created singles to be used in movies, he was also responsible for co-writing and producing some of the tracks that would dominate every radio station for months: “Ocean Eyes” and “Bellyache.” But this isn’t just a story about hidden figures or sideline heroes. FINNEAS’ debut EP speaks volumes about the beautiful, gut-wrenching process of loving and losing.
Following my first listen, the songs that stuck out the most were “Shelter” and “I Don’t Miss You at All.” From the moment “Shelter” begins, a quick, rhythmic background beat enters behind the smooth vocals of Finneas himself. His acoustic guitar riffs, as well, are impressive and contrast just enough with the electronic background effects to be unique rather than imposing. The chorus, in all its glory, is full of vocal layering and harmonies, demonstrating O’Connell’s wide vocal range. Finally, nearing the song’s end, O’Connell sings “I don’t wanna [sic] think about a life without you,” signifying the heartbreak and longing that overtakes the EP in its entirety.
The same upbeat (yet somehow melancholy) atmosphere presents itself in “I don’t Miss You at All,” which introduces itself with a few softer, melodic tones. Again, O’Connell’s smooth voice is crisp yet gentle, and borders on raspy as he sings about “those eyes, a shade of green that if he’d seen would make F. Scott Fitzgerald cry.” The music soon cuts out and leaves the listener hanging on, until he returns once again with a huskier voice and a determination to convince a listener that he “won’t miss you at all.”
Each other song on the EP has the same message and heartbroken undertones, but present them in a more obvious, explicit way. O’Connell in the first track, “I Lost a Friend,” stuck some similarity to Coldplay’s Chris Martin if more modernized. It was easy to spot the frustration and passion fueling his songwriting, as seen in “Partners in Crime” as well. With lyrics like “isn’t that what friends are for, even if we used to be more, like lovers, or partners in crime,” it is clear that O’Connell is struggling to cope with this loss of not only a girlfriend, but someone who surpasses that level.
This sense of loss leads us to the last track on the EP which O’Connell titled “Die Alone.” Again, like the first track, the vocals are pure and heavy with feeling. A rich grand piano tone in the background sets the mood for this song, preparing listeners for the end of this emotion-packed journey.
It was a strategic move to sandwich the more modern, energetic tracks within these opening and closing titles, and I definitely appreciated the thought O’Connell put into this EP. After trekking through the lyrical and melodic genius of each of the seven songs, it was a nice touch to finish up and feel a sense of finality with “Die Alone.” It encompasses the mood of the entire album and really comes full circle after enticing listeners with such a painfully beautiful introduction from the very first track. All in all, FINNEAS offers a wide array of styles and choices within just a few short tracks. Blood Harmony is a bittersweet, public love letter that I believe anyone can relate to in some form.
Stephanie Tan is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].