hell is a teenage girl
“It might be a man's world/But I'll watch it burn/Hell is a teenage girl,” Nessa Barrett trills on the title track of her second EP. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter and social-media sensation shook up the teen-pop landscape with her goth-tinged, high-drama brand of music, which used heat-of-the-moment declarations (like her breakthrough “i hope ur miserable until ur dead”) as a way to dig into early-2020s realities of love, mental health, and young womanhood. On hell is a teenage girl, Barrett refines her arguments. She zeroes in on the world's cruelties toward women in various guises, including what happens as they age—“say that you're ruined when you pass 24,” she muses on “hell is a teenage girl.” She also digs into those moments of callousness that too casually happen between individuals, like the way she rues being “love[d] like a corpse” after a one-night stand on the spectral “motel whore.” Barrett's breathy voice, which has a smoke-plume lower register but can ascend into a ghostly falsetto when her material requires it, imbues each line with depths-of-the-soul fervor, ticking off the details of spending herself into post-breakup oblivion on the trap-pop cut “heartbreak in the hamptons” or regretting a relationship that went on for too long on the icy “the one that should've got away.” It also nestles in well to the spiky basslines and frenetic pace of the revenge fantasy “BANG BANG!”, which closes hell is a teenage girl on a chaotic, defiant note. Barrett has only been releasing music since 2020, when she put out the smoldering piano ballad “Pain.” But her cut-to-the-chase style and clear-eyed view of her world helped her become a leading Gen Z voice quickly. Whether she's speaking frankly about dealing with borderline personality disorder in interviews or breaking down the complexities of gender relations succinctly in her music, Barrett is able to deliver her truths in a way that's dark, witty, and utterly urgent.