Nessa Barrett - “pretty poison” EP Review

Story posted September 15, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D’Ovidio.

On Friday, Sept. 10, Nessa Barrett released her first EP “pretty poison.” Barrett is a 19-year-old influencer best known for her presence on the app TikTok where she has 16.7 million followers. 

Prior to the release of this EP, Barrett had released six non-album singles since 2020, two of which are collaborations with fellow TikToker and current boyfriend Jaden Hossler, better known as Jxdn.

The majority of Barrett's music falls under the pop-rock category, including “pretty poison.” This style of music has become increasingly popular in the past few years.

Her first and only single as of now from “pretty poison” is “i hope ur miserable until ur dead” which is by far the best song on this project. The song is fun to listen and sing along, but that is really all it offers. The vocal performance isn’t bad but it is boring and leaves a lot to be desired from Barrett who has a talented voice.

The real issue with Barrett's music is that it feels inauthentic. While her online persona matches the aesthetic of her pop-punk music, her voice lacks the angst the lyrics require.

Not that the lyrics are necessarily a strong point on this album, as many of the lyrics are lazy and don’t really tell any story. The topics covered in “pretty poison” such as breakups, depression and being misunderstood are written about with little to no artistry.

While Barrett is a new artist, she had several co-writers on each song which may surprise many listeners given the juvenile nature of these songs.

This EP has only seven tracks. With the exception of the aforementioned “i hope you’re miserable until ur dead,” the majority of these tracks sound exactly the same. While listening to the album at times it is difficult to differentiate between the songs.

The first two songs “pretty poison” and “keep me afraid” are both lackluster. There is nothing necessarily wrong with them; they're both just fine. The instrumental is more interesting than the lyrics, however it does not compensate for the boring performance for either of these songs to be added to any sort of playlist.

The third track “i hope you’re miserable until ur dead” helps pick up the EP but the next song “grave” is a real low point on the album. This song is the first ballad on the album and it is extremely boring to listen to. The instrumental is lazy and no part of the song is exciting. This would have been the perfect opportunity to showcase Barrett’s vocal abilities, but it was wasted.

Lyrics such as “My dreams are violent/feels like my mind splits/Barely alive, it’s true/the only thing keeping me out of the grave is you” feel extremely dull. While Barrett has been open about her struggles with mental health, this song feels like the glorification of being suicidal in a toxic relationship.

The next two songs “scare myself” and “i wanna die” seem to be produced in the exact same way. There is very little versatility in this album but upon a first listen it was extremely difficult to differentiate between these two songs.

The final track “sincerely” serves as an outro which is a minute long and over half of the song is a voicemail. The first 30 seconds contain a stripped down track with Barrett singing giving her best vocal performance of the whole album.

At the end of the day, this is simply a subpar project. Barrett clearly has vocal talent and a large amount of resources due to her internet fame, it just didn’t all click. It is surprising that an artist who has worked with rock legends such as Travis Barker hasn’t been able to create a good song on her own.

The only thing this album accomplishes is letting the listener know that Barrett suffers from mental health issues and that even with all the resources in the world, talent can’t be bought.

When you compare Barrett to artists her age such as Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Ellish it is clear that her music is no where near the level of these pop stars. Many of the songs on this album sound like rejected tracks from the previously mentioned artists.

A common criticism of many influencers who make music is that the artist doesn’t deserve the platform that they do. That just because they can make music doesn’t necessarily mean they should.

This isn’t a valid criticism of Barrett, who has been pursuing music for a while and is using her following to obtain said career rather than just creating music for a cash grab.

However, the question has to be asked, if Barrett didn’t have millions of followers would she be given the resources she was? It’s pretty clear that the answer is no.

A lot of the authenticity this album lacks could be due to the fact that it was overproduced and had too many collaborators on it. Rodrigo wrote the majority of her smash hit “Drivers License” alone in her room. Ellish and her brother created a grammy award winning album in their childhood home.

Regardless of the resources and connections these influencers turned musicians have, it is clear that if they are not genuine artists, they are not going to succeed in the way many pop artists do.

Nessa Barrett's debut EP is exactly what is to be expected from an influencer's music. A solid vocal performance but lacks any sort of connection to the listeners at home.

For Barrett’s sake as a musician, hopefully she can learn from her experience in the studio with professionals and put together another body of work that comes from the heart.

Rating: 3/10

Reviewers Favorite Songs: “i hope ur miserable until ur dead” and “sincerely”

Reviewers Least Favorite Songs: “grave” and “i wanna die”

 

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year communications major. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.