Nessa Barrett is combating cuffing season on “if u love me,” her hypnotic new single out now. Backed by trap hi-hats and ominous 808 bass, she sings dreamily, but the message is haunting — a warning of the ways love can drive you to think, say, and do things you otherwise wouldn’t. It’s a romantic-revenge anthem crackling with dark-pop energy.
“if u love me” reveals a previously unknown side of Barrett, 18, formally launched her music career in July with “Pain,” a minimally produced piano ballad all about releasing internal hurt that has amassed over 22 million video and audio streams. On “if u love me,”Barrett turns her focus outward, bluntly calling out her ex’s missteps and promising retribution. The chorus is delivered delicately, but it comes with a chilling warning: “When my heart goes cold,” she sings. “I hold my demons close and I don’t let go.”
“This song is a total flip from ‘Pain,’” says Barrett. “‘if u love me’ is more badass, more edgy, and explains that if you hurt me, I’ll hurt you back. Still, within all that, there’s another emotion that comes out: feeling guilty that you hurt someone you love even though they hurt you first.”
Barrett, who writes all of her own music, went with a stripped-down sound on her debut single to allow herself room to evolve in whatever direction her experiences and emotions dictate, and to let her fans witness that process in real time. “if u love me” makes good on that tack.