REVIEW: Nessa Barrett’s sophomore EP ‘hell is a teenage girl’

Nessa Barrett’s second EP, hell is a teenage girl, deepens her already rounded and practiced sound into a fully realized vision. Building around the themes of a breakup, Barrett announces herself boldly in the title track, and keeps your ears in a delicate balance between aural ecstasy and thematic trauma for eight gorgeous tracks.

Something New Must Begin

It doesn’t matter to the brilliant lyrics, she makes it clear in her first track that in order to create the new world she wants to inhabit, the old one needs to be burned down, broken down into its elemental pieces as she blows the final kiss into the dark night of an old relationship. Only twenty but coming of age in a time of unbearable consequences and broken-hearted realization of the darkness of the soul, her work crafts an ever-darker message as she travels through eight tracks tinged with Lana Del Rey and St. Vincent influence, building a fire out of the dark forest of emotion that is the search for love and the aftermath of heartbreak.

If there’s anything to criticize in Barrett’s heartbroken soundscape, it’s that her album hews a little too closely to modern pop music orthodoxy. Her album’s emotional beats are as resonant as their flawless production can make them, but at times, it feels like her songwriting ticks the boxes of the breakup-album genre rather than expressing a personal heartache. But with this kind of heartbreak so common among girls and young women, it’s easy to understand why this album sounds the way it does.

Should I Buy?

Nessa Barrett’s sound is as polished as it can be in her third major outing in as many years, and the themes of heartbreak, breakup, and renewal are perfectly rendered. Her beautiful voice and transcendent talent make this EP a must-listen.